I Can COPE with Breast Cancer!

Absorbing the news that you have a breast cancer diagnosis is challenging to say the least! Your emotions will be intense — feeling scared, anxious, out of control.

But you’re not alone in this journey. Your health care team will guide you through the coping process. Health care teams are equipped with many tools and resources to help women cope. They will help you by seeking support, organizing accurate health information, making sure all your questions are answered and addressing concerns.

One of the most effective ways to cope with a breast cancer diagnosis is participating in the decision-making process. Communication is key in making informed decisions about your disease.

Listed below are a few questions to ask your health care team. The answers you receive will make you feel more in control of your personal encounter with breast cancer.

  • What type of breast cancer do I have?
  • Can you explain my lab/pathology report?
  • What stage is the breast cancer? What does this mean?
  • What is the ER/PR status of my tumor? What does this mean to me?
  • What is the HER2 status of my tumor? What does this mean to me?
  • Can you explain my treatment options?
  • Are there any clinical trials open I can participate in?
  • If a clinical trial is open elsewhere, do I have to go there to participate? Can I participate and receive my care here?
  • What treatment do you recommend? Why?
  • What order should I receive my treatment? Why?
  • What is the goal of my treatment?  Is it to eliminate the cancer, help me feel better?
  • Who will be my treatment team? What does each member do?
  • Will it affect my daily life?
  • What are the immediate side effects of treatment?
  • Will the treatment have long-term side effects?
  • What is the approximate cost related to the treatment options? Who can help me with this concern?
  • Where do I find support? Groups? Organizations? Locally or nationally?

We understand that the moment you receive a breast cancer diagnosis, your thoughts can become jumbled. You’re never prepared for it. I hope that keeping these questions in your back pocket may help ground your thoughts and emotions, and also be helpful in managing your diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

By Charlene Berke

Director of the Cancer Center at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital

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