The answers to the following questions are important for you to know whether your cancer is fast growing and/or invasive cancer or slow growing and self-contained. Some important questions are:
1) What “type” or “types” of breast cancer do I have?
2) What “stage” is it in?
3) Is the cancer estrogen driven?
4) Is the cancer HER2 positive or negative?
5) Is the breast cancer fast growing or slow growing?
As you find answers to these questions, you will be on your way to becoming your own health advocate. So don’t be shy. This is your life we’re talking about. This is your body. And you, not the doctors, will make the choices as to your care. You can select your medical team of professionals that practice not only medicine, but compassion as well. By doing this, you will gain more confidence that will give you the power to heal.
You might wish that these choices would be better not left up to you. Some view the more they learn through asking questions and research, the less they fear. Others may view the opposite–the less questions they ask and research, the less they fear. Just remember every person comes to breast cancer with a different set of circumstances. You are dealing with this time as best as you can. Just try not to compare yourself with others. You are you–not someone else. Listen selectively to others and know that you do have options on how you perceive and manage the situations surrounding your health.
You have the right to know as much and as little as you choose. And you have the right to select who will be helpful to you and your total body. If you don’t, you can refer to www.patientsrights.com Our foundation believes that “knowledge is powerful medicine.” So does this site.
Other ways to gain powerful medicine for yourself is to ask your doctor for copies of the report of findings from your mammograms (past and present) and pathology reports from your biopsies. These can indicate your type of cancer in greater detail. And, while you’re at it, feel free to ask for any other medical records, such as blood tests, so you’ll have them close at hand if needed.
To be a true advocate over your health, it is helpful to keep your papers in order. A medical history notebook to hold all your requested report copies can be extremely beneficial. These documents can help you feel organized amidst the chaos and can save you time from having to order a copy of all your records at one time which can take a week or more. When visiting more than one doctor, just the waiting for the records can cause one to feel that their time is being wasted and taking longer towards creating your treatment plan. Start your 3-ring notebook with tabs to hold your lab results, biopsy and post-procedure reports, medical bills, etc. in date order. These will serve you well when you see several doctors and need the same information and saves time in having to call one doctor’s office to make copies and send them to another. Keeping your records in one place will also help if you ever need to seek a second option.
Reading your medical reports can help you become more familiar with your cancer and serves as a record for any females (or males) in your family. If you feel comfortable talking about your cancer and the cancer type, you can advocate teaching others with what it is that you know, what more that you want or need to know and how you feel about this knowledge. A sense of awareness about your health may give you a sense of feeling somewhat in control.
It can also be helpful to jot down your immediate thoughts or before-and-after-appointment-thoughts in a journal. You’ll be amazed at how handy this will be as you hop from one doctor to another. It can also be helpful while sitting in the waiting room before an appointment as you think of questions, and especially if the wait is long. Your journal will also help you see some sort of progression that things are moving forward and have not come to an end.