Your Health, Your Hair, Your Heart: What to Know After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Your Health, Your Hair, Your Heart: What to Know After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis
This week’s column is about what to do when you’re staring down a life-changing diagnosis. Learning you have breast cancer is terrifying, but like so many others, you’re going to get through it — just like I'm doing. From a patient’s perspective, I offer three categories of advice: your health, your hair, and your heart.

About your health

Although you may feel like you're at your weakest, you need to rally. Advocate for yourself as if your life depends on it. Here’s how:

Get a second opinion:

No exceptions. Make sure you speak with an oncologist. Most cancer patients get referred to surgeons. I love my surgeon, but meeting with an oncologist saved my breast, my nipple, and possibly my life. He ordered tests that discovered cancer had spread to other parts of my body; cancers that otherwise would have gone untreated. And he suggested neoadjuvant therapy instead of surgery first.

Ask about neoadjuvant therapy:

This $10 term means having chemo before surgery to shrink your tumor, which can make surgeries unnecessary or less invasive. It’s how my would-be mastectomy turned into a nipple-saving
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