The early spring day revealed a flawless blue sky. Birds were happily chirping, hopping from branch to branch. Christina gazed out the window, waiting for her husband to drive around with the car and pick her up.
Oddly enough, the world seemed quite happy to continue spinning on, even though for her, everything had changed. The doctor’s words, “breast cancer” and “surgery,” hung in the air as they headed home holding hands in silence. Six months later, Christina was back at work and doing fine. Her advice to women preparing for breast cancer surgery?
“At first, just give yourself permission to just feel whatever you feel. Once you have gotten mad, cried, or done whatever you needed, you can begin to empower yourself by becoming informed and participating in your own care.”
Before You Undergo Breast Cancer Surgery
People react differently to stressful news like the diagnosis of breast cancer. Some patients almost shut-down or go into a sort of auto-pilot mode, while others want to hurry up and have the surgery just to get it over with. The important thing to understand is that while you may want clear cut answers and immediate action, you should allow yourself the opportunity to process things first.
Next, try to keep in mind that rushing headlong into action may not be in your best interest. You owe it to yourself to understand your treatment options, and how they are likely to affect your outcome. What, for instance, are the possible side effects of medications, chemo, or radiation?
Does your doctor think you should or should not undergo chemotherapy prior to surgery? Do you have to have multiple lymph nodes removed? Does your doctor have a plan for preserving healthy lymphatic draining (to reduce future lymphedema, or chronic arm swelling)?
Are you a candidate for a lumpectomy? If so, does the surgeon feel that you could benefit from TARGIT (targeted intraoperative radiotherapy), a specific kind of radiation administered during a lumpectomy. Or, can you undergo cryoablation (a type of treatment that involves freezing small tumors that are 1.5 cm and smaller)? What does your doctor recommend? More importantly, why does he (or she), believe this surgery or option is right for you? Most doctors are more than happy to explain why you need a given treatment or procedure, and explain all the benefits and risks involved.
While the news can come as a shock, breast cancer is more treatable than ever. So first things first; breathe. Just breathe and be. After that, learn all you can and dig in to fight the cancer in partnership with your medical team. At Intercoastal Medical Group, we know something about caring for patients. Let us work alongside you, offering the comprehensive medical care you need, when you need it. Give us a call today or make an appointment online. At Intercoastal Medical Group, we are here to help you get more out of life.