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How to Handle a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Patient speaking with a doctor

Regardless of the type or stage, anytime someone receives a cancer diagnosis, it is always a tough pill to swallow for both the patient and their loved ones. As a matter of fact, it’s extremely normal to go through an emotional rollercoaster before finally coming to terms with the reality of the illness. This is because throughout its history, cancer in general has always been known as a terminal illness and has reportedly killed 9.6 million people as of 2017¹. In addition, it’s known as the second leading cause of death (only behind cardiovascular disease). In the 1980s, cases of breast cancer increased dramatically and affected about 105 women out of 100,000. In total, 43,583 women died from breast cancer by 1991. Thankfully, many strides have been made since then, and according to experts from the American Cancer Society, “breast cancer death rates have decreased by 39% from 1989 to 2015”². However, even with more medical and technological advancements, this doesn’t change how one feels when they receive their initial diagnosis.

Receiving any type of cancer diagnosis involves a lot of time to process and planning on how their life will change due to the disease, and this can be extremely overwhelming for both the patient and the caregiver. When cancer patients visit LifeWorks, they’re not just here for treatments. Our patients confide in us for emotional support from our practitioners and staff because they need positive encouragement during their treatment process. And, while many oncologists may inform them that they have less than six months to live and transfer them to hospice, we will provide them with a source of hope. As a result, many are able to beat the odds and live for several more years or even put their cancer in remission.

For those coping with a breast cancer diagnosis (or any other cancer type), here are a few things to keep in mind while dealing with the emotions during your treatments.

Ask Questions

For those who are afraid to ask questions, don’t be. When it comes to any cancer diagnosis, ask as many questions as you can.  Write them down so you don’t forget any. Asking questions is an important communication tactic to receive direct answers rather than sitting in limbo wondering what comes next. In addition, it also provides knowledge about one’s condition. Failure to communicate or ask questions can lead to uncertainty and stress. Whether one decides to receive treatment from a conventional oncologist or is seeking alternative methods, asking questions is essential to understanding what is best for one’s health, finances, and quality of life. Knowledge is power, and the more one understands their condition, treatments, and process, the more confident they will feel going forward.

At LifeWorks, patients normally have a boatload of questions involving treatment options, side effects, costs, life expectancy, and what they can do to stay healthy during the process. For most cases, it’s normal for any medical facility to discuss the next steps for each cancer case, although it’s also normal for patients to ask additional questions such as:

  • “What type of breast cancer do I have?”
  • “How aggressive is the tumor?”
  • “Do I need other tests before I decide on a treatment plan?”
  • “How much will this cost?”
  • “How can I take care of myself at home?”
  • “How is alternative cancer treatment different from conventional treatment?”
  • “What should I expect during the treatment process?”

Avoid Reading Online Cancer Articles

The moment that people receive a breast cancer diagnosis, they go straight to their computers and research their prognosis statistics in order to measure their life expectancy. However, doing this does not ease a patient’s anxiety. As a matter of fact, it may even worsen it if they read that their chances are low. While many cancer articles provide beneficial advice for patients, many of them are extremely generalized. Because cancer is so different and each person’s situation is different, it’s difficult to really tell one’s precise chances of survival.

Some statistics that are released by the American Cancer Society seem to reveal percentages without showing the number of patients sampled. This makes a huge difference as the number of people sampled can impact the statistic percentage dramatically. Furthermore, some cancers are more common than others, and cancers that are more uncommon may have a lower prognosis statistic compared to the common cases. This isn’t due to how much deadlier they are, but the smaller amount of people that have it and were sampled. This reveals a smaller proportion or ratio that makes the statistic seem worse, when in reality, its prognosis is similar to other cancer types.

Also, take into account that sometimes the cause of death is due to complications from the chemotherapy treatments and not the cancer itself. Regardless, these deaths are still listed as cancer deaths. These numbers also don’t account for the stage that someone is diagnosed, when/if they started treatment, and what their survival rate is based on this and many other factors (i.e. one’s commitment to following through with the program/treatments and anything else their doctor recommends).  For example, some people choose to succumb to their illness rather than fight. Sadly, this just adds to the poor statistics that scare people. In the end, if breast cancer patients want to know their true prognosis, they should consult with their practitioner and/or oncologist for a more direct answer that is specific to their case.

Talk to Other Breast Cancer Patients/Survivors

There is a plethora of breast cancer organizations for people to join. As a matter of fact, there are organizations for all types of cancers so that patients can communicate and support each other during their treatments. It’s one thing to talk to family members and/or practitioners, however most people tend to feel more comfortable talking to those who truly understand them and what they’re going through. Learning about the experiences from others can help prepare one to know what to ask, what to expect, or learn more about their condition. As they talk to others, they may feel their anxiety ease and feel more confident going forward in their treatments.

Have an Emotional Support System

Cancer treatment of any kind can be intimidating and terrifying. Therefore, it’s essential for them to have a strong emotional support system to let them know that they’re not alone. At LifeWorks Wellness Center, patients that come in for cancer treatments often feel comfortable speaking to practitioners and staff about their concerns, and we do our best by helping them feel welcome, acknowledged and confident throughout the process. Sometimes, this support will help the patient adapt to a new lifestyle and help them follow any medical instructions provided by the practitioner or oncologist. This can be anything from changing dietary meals, helping them take their medicine, taking walks with them (to encourage exercise) and being there when they feel depressed or scared.

Successfully Handle Your Breast Cancer

Most oncologists will encourage conventional treatments and market them as the best way to eliminate cancer and that it’s the only option. However, there is no definitive proof of this, as it all truly depends on the health of the patient, and how one’s body and tumor responds to the treatment. In some cases, chemotherapy, surgery or radiation may worsen or cause the cancer to spread or grow more. Some cancers are resistant to these treatments. Others may respond well, but compromise the immune system forever. This is why it’s important for breast cancer patients to thoroughly explore all of their treatment options, understand the risks of each, seek a second opinion, and decide which method is best for them. At LifeWorks, our cancer treatments are less invasive and focus solely on killing the tumor cells rather than the healthy ones. By doing this, we use insulin potentiation therapy (low dose chemo treatment), ozone therapy, intravenous therapies, peptides, supplementation, and natural dietary changes.

LifeWorks Wellness Center is located in Clearwater, Florida and has successfully treated breast cancer patients for over 23 years. If you or someone that you know are suffering from breast cancer (or other cancers) and are interested in alternative cancer treatments, please contact us at 727-466-6789 to schedule an appointment with a LifeWorks cancer specialist.

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