Asking Questions About Breast Cancer
Have you seen the new question and answer feature on this site? “Got a Question? Get an Answer!” debuted just about 3 weeks ago, and I’m pleased to see how many women are taking advantage of this useful tool.
Most questions are pretty straightforward: What are the possible side effects of radiation? Is a lumpectomy a hospital surgery or an office procedure? Some are things we’ve all wondered: When they talk about risk of recurrence decreasing after 2 years, is that 2 years after diagnosis, or 2 years after treatment? And some are looking for situation-specific solutions: Has anyone had problems with the Estring staying put after a total hysterectomy?
The majority of queries, though, are clearly from women worried about a possible breast cancer symptom. I have a rope-like feeling in my breast… I have a brown discharge from my left breast… I have small bumps on my nipple… Though I’m no doctor, I’ve read and studied and written enough about breast cancer that I can provide answers to most of these questions—save those asking for a diagnosis. This site won’t tell you if you have cancer; but hopefully the information and support we pass along will help you feel a little less panicky while you’re waiting for a doctor’s appointment.
It’s been over six years since I stepped out from under the radiation machine for the final time, finishing my active treatment on Valentine’s Day, 2002. But I can easily call back emotions from those 9 months of multiple surgeries, radiation, chemo, pneumonia, blood tests, drugs… The confusion about cancer terminology (radiation and radiology are NOT the same thing, not even close). Embarrassment at seeming foolish when I didn’t understand or couldn’t absorb what the oncologist had just said to me (what the heck is adjuvant therapy?). Not wanting to be a bother, a “pest,” hesitating to call the massive “hem/onc” department at the hospital… but desperately wanting to know every detail about this dangerous new bedfellow—cancer—threatening my life. Frankly, there was nowhere to turn.
Now, for those of you visiting this site, there is. Search on any breast cancer topic; you’ll find first-person posts and FAQS and videos and news articles and pictures and… well, just about anything you’d want to know. About chemo and radiation. Mastectomy and lumpectomy. Heck, type in the word “fear,” you get 577 results, everything from fear of recurrence to fear of the unknown to “fear of fear.” And now, if you want a specific question answered quickly, just ask; you’ll find the Q & A section at the bottom of the home page. And it’s checked regularly.
So when you’re up at 2 a.m. searching online for the side effects of AC chemo, or you’re scared to death abut your upcoming mastectomy, or you want to know if you can skip a week of radiation to go on a long-awaited cruise… look here first. Do a search. Read other women’s stories. Ask a question. We’re here to help, and we look forward to helping YOU.