Even the most routine medical appointments can cause anxiety, but breast cancer can put anxiety into overdrive. If you or someone you love has just been diagnosed, here’s what you need to know:
Expect to be Overwhelmed
I was shocked when it happened to me, when I felt my large, hard lump and then heard it connected with cancer. People were using terms I had never heard of, speaking with a sense of urgency.
I needed to make decisions based on information I didn't understand, and I was trying to come to grips with a new reality. Suddenly, I wondered if my little girl would grow up without a mother, how my husband would cope with my illness, and what cancer would do to my family’s finances.
Remarkably, these panicky feelings abate. Feeling overwhelmed is part of the experience, but – heart’s honor – it gets easier.
Like many women, I’m more comfortable giving help than asking for it. But the reality is, a cancer diagnosis means you need a lot of help.
Someone should come with you to every appointment, a trusted friend who can help you digest the onslaught of new information. Your advocate will be additional eyes and ears and can ask questions you haven’t thought of, and speak on your behalf when you just can’t do it yourself.
This person needs to be compassionate, organized, and smart. I am fortunate because for me, this person is my husband. An advocate is essential to your survival, and my advice is to find one — even if you have to hire someone.
Ask, Ask, and Ask Again
After my diagnosis, I met with a doctor who said my need for surgery was immediate. He wanted to perform a mastectomy the next morning
. My thoughts were spinning, but my advocate was clear-headed. He asked