When a woman hears that she has breast cancer, her first response
may be a desire to have treatment—any treatment—immediately.
But breast cancer is not a medical emergency like a heart attack or
an appendicitis. By the time the tumor is found, it may have been
growing for years. You can take several weeks to organize your thoughts,
gather information, and make a decision about treatment, without jeopardizing
Becoming well informed about breast cancer and about your options
is one of the most important steps you can take at this stage. Knowledge
of the facts will give you a sense of comfort and control.
Studies have shown that a woman's degree of satisfaction with the
outcome of her treatment had to do less with the results of the treatment,
and more with how much information she had when she made the decision.
Take your time to gather all the facts you need, so that you can be
comfortable with the decisions that will affect the rest of your life.
Your main source of information will be the professionals caring
for you. Make lists of topics you want to discuss, and don't hesitate
to ask any question, no matter how simple it may seem. Ask your support
person to accompany you to the medical appointments, so that you have
someone to help you take notes, tape record what was said, or ask
Many medical facilities have patient resource centers where you
will find collections of books, videos, and DVDs on various aspects
of breast cancer treatment.
On a regional or national level, there are several organizations
that can be valuable sources of information. They can be found in
the Resources section at the end of the book. The specialists at these
organizations, many of whom are breast cancer survivors themselves,
can answer many general questions about cancer, or send you written
materials and information.
A lot of information—and, sadly, misinformation—is readily
available on the internet. Be sure that the site you are consulting
is sponsored by a reputable organization, and does not represent some
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