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What to do once diagnosed with breast cancer

Updated on August 19, 2014

My personal story of breast cancer

It is a great summer 2014. I love mountain biking and anyone who rides mountain bikes knows that now then you may fall. Well, I did fall and hit the bike handlebars against my chest. About two to three weeks after a lump appeared on my right breast and I really thought it was a result of the bike incident. But to make sure I made an appointment with my primary care physician. She sent me for an MRI/Ultra sound which both came back suspicious. The radiologist sent me to see a surgeon for a biopsy. Biopsy came back as an Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma, a common breast cancer.

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Faith is important

The waiting game is horrendous after you are diagnosed. Your mind can play games if you let it. So don’t. Stay busy. Stay active. Go for a walk or continue to do whatever activity you where previously doing before you where diagnosed. I continued riding my mountain bike even if I had to force myself to do it. You’ll get the stage results sooner or later. You need to have faith. I believe in God, I believe in Jesus Christ. In fact, faith has played a big part in all my life. I do not feel that God has rejected me, on the contrary, I feel fortunate that I have my faith that I can draw from when my boat is rocked.

Doctors and patients

Have you ever had to change your doctor for whatever reason?

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Work with a doctor you trust

Look out for yourself. You need to believe in your surgeon. Find out about his/hers credentials before you are operated on. If you are not comfortable with your doctor then you are not going to be a happy camper after the surgery. If you are faced having to change doctors, find out what your options are in your area. Also, check what doctors are available through your insurance company. Unfortunately, some insurance companies are limited to certain doctors. You need to find out. You are your own best advocate.

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Keep your chin up

Have a healthy pride in yourself. Just because the cancer attacked your body at this time of your life do not let it defeat you. Dress up as if you were going for a special occasion every day. Or do it maybe every other day, don’t let yourself be seen as “wow me”. And for your doctor’s appointment get classy. You are the classiest breast cancer patient and you deserve to get noticed. (Forget the perfume just be clean.) You don’t need pity. Pity is for cowards. You need healing and healing comes when you continue to take care of yourself and when you invite people into your circle who encourage you to keep going forward in life. It is important that you stay away from spectators and gossipers who stall you and who do not have a life and want to prick at you with their sharp words. After sometime, choosing your company comes naturally. It is called survival.

Treatment Options for Breast Cancer

Deciding on treatment options

Once you have done all your required tests: your EKG, PET scan, chest x-ray, blood works and MRI and the doctor has been able to give you some sort of idea of your cancer status. Then your doctor will give you treatment options such as lumpectomy, mastectomy, single mastectomy, double mastectomy, reconstruction etc. It is a whole new world out there. You may have to wait to see if there are cancerous tumors under your armpit before other treatment plan such as chemo and radiation is decided.

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Food for thought

Start making plans ahead. Should I stay in the hospital overnight or come home the same day? (Your doctor may give you that option.) What am I going to eat the next six days? Should I cook something in the freezer ahead of time? Or is your husband good enough cook to tie you over until you can move your arms again in the kitchen.

It is your body - Take it seriously

Imagine yourself after the surgery and whatever you decide: mastectomy or lumpectomy. Think ahead. Start seriously thinking about the reconstructive surgery. You are never too old for reconstructive surgery it is your choice. You may have to wait after the chemotherapy, before you go ahead with any reconstruction. But it is good to keep the wheels turning. Who would you trust to perform the surgery? Check with your insurance plan the plastic surgeons, who are contracted with your plan. Choose at least top three plastic surgeons as your favorite candidates. Check with your state medical board if the doctors that you like have any complaints against them. You can accomplish it online. Then choose your top pick.

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Summary


  • Have Faith
  • Work with a doctor you trust
  • Keep your chin up
  • Decide on your treatment options by educating yourself
  • Start making plans ahead

Learn and Persevere

Educate yourself whether you should go with silicone implant or tissue flap procedure. You may not ever have heard of tissue flap procedures as an option for breast reconstruction, but it is covered benefit after mastectomy. It entails basically taking tissue from your stomach, back, thighs, or buttocks to rebuild a breast. Googling “breast flap reconstruction after mastectomy” will give you lots of information on the Internet. When you jump actively into your own care it actually starts feeling good. In fact, it starts feeling like you are beginning to win the battle. Why? Because you are actively living a warrior life rather passively accepting defeated one. Good luck and all the best to you in your endeavors. Winston Churchill said once: “Never give up, never, never, never!”

© 2014 Karoliina Urso

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