Saturday, October 09, 2010

Advice for Anyone Newly Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Guest Post by Fran Padgett, author of
Breast Cancer Recovery: No One Wrote a Manual and Breast Cancer: No One Chose This Journey

As a breast cancer “survivor,” I have been asked many times, “What advice would you give a new patient?” and also “How can family and friends best show their support?” I hope the following tips are helpful.

For the Patient

1. Find your inner strength.
Stop for a few minutes, take a deep breath, and look inside yourself for your inner strength. I promise you, it is there. Women are strong even when they think they have no strength left.

2. Build rapport with your physician(s).
It is essential that you are “on the same page” with your physicians. You should feel free to ask questions and expect full and understandable answers. If you do not connect, if you do not feel a rapport, then by all means waste no time. Arrange to meet with other doctors, surgeons, plastic surgeons, oncologists, and perhaps an internist, until you have a team that makes you totally comfortable.

3. Ask questions and gather knowledge.
Be judicious in this regard. Ask as much as you want to know. Some patients want to learn everything at once. Some want only a bare minimum. Be careful about looking on the Internet. There is good information online and less reliable as well. There will be time as you go through your treatment to acquire more knowledge along the way.

4. There are many resources available to you.
If you have special needs, financial or otherwise, there are a lot of options with local and with national organizations. Start with a recommended hospital or nearby breast center to obtain contact information.

5. Take time for your passions.
That’s what I did. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, I started painting again and also started writing. By focusing on my passions, I was able to get through some of the toughest points of my life.

For Family or Friends of a Newly Diagnosed Patient

1. Be patient.
Cancer treatments take at least a year, often longer.

2. Be understanding and listen to us as patients.
You don’t need to have answers, just be there.

3. Please don’t ignore us.
Contact is desperately needed. This can be visits, phone calls, cards, emails, Facebook postings, etc.

4. Don’t treat us differently.
We are the same person we were before our diagnosis. Being treated the same at work and at home gives the patient a reassuring sense of being normal.

5. Remember the old song “Little Things Mean a Lot.”
“Day brighteners” can be anything from small gifts such as music CDs or books; comforting items such as soft pillows or lap robes; services such as pedicures and massages; phone calls; and being taken to lunch; to hugs and smiles.

By gathering information, focusing on your passions, getting the support of family and friends, and living life well, newly diagnosed patients can fight and win against breast cancer.

Fran Padgett is a breast cancer survivor and author of Breast Cancer: No One Chose This Journey and Breast Cancer Recovery: No One Wrote a Manual. She is the founder of The Weathervane Foundation, Inc., which is dedicated to finding the cause and cure of breast cancer. For more information about Padgett and her work, visit and


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