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Breast Cancer Basics
Early Detection
Diagnosis & Staging
Facing Breast Cancer
Planning Your Treatment
Treatment Options
Advanced Breast Cancer
A Guide For Your Partner


Gathering Information


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 the outcome.

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 additional questions.


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 individual's bias.


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