Mammography - Yellowstone Breast Center
What if Cancer is Found
- Get specifics on your diagnosis and treatment.
In order to maximize your time with your providers, bring your questions with you in writing to your appointments. Ask for copies of your test results and keep a notebook of all these results. Keep a list of questions that arise between visits so you don't forget and take notes of the answers. Above all, make informed decisions; learn as much as you can about your diagnosis and treatment.
- Spend time choosing your doctor.
Breast cancer specialists who work at dedicated cancer centers offer specific expertise as well as access to the latest treatments that are part of clinical studies.
- Get the support you need for talking about your diagnosis.
Breaking the news to your friends and family that you've been diagnosed with breast cancer can be just as difficult as first hearing the news yourself from your doctor. Sometimes it's uncomfortable to ask for help, answer questions about how you're doing or tell relatives and friend that you need some time and space for yourself. If available at your hospital, request to meet with a social worker to discuss any emotional support or resource referrals you might need. A local support group for women with breast cancer may also help considerably. Ask your hospital or clinic to help you identify appropriate resources in your area.
- Seek help in navigating financial issues, if necessary.
Your hospital should have a social worker, patient navigator or financial services department to help you manage financial issues and deal with private insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid. If you have concerns, request an appointment.
- Talk with your doctor about coping with menopause symptoms.
Breast cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy or ovary removal or who have had to discontinue hormone replacement therapy upon diagnosis may experience symptoms of menopause. Talk to your doctor about how to safely minimize menopausal symptoms.
- Get good nutrition
Your cancer treatment may influence your ability to taste and smell and it may alter your digestion. You may have more energy and less nausea if you eat smaller amounts of foods more frequently rather than eating three big meals per day.
- Take steps to prevent lymphedema
Lymphedema is a side effect of breast cancer treatment that involves swelling of the soft tissues of the arm, hand or chest wall. It isn't life threatening but it needs to be treated to avoid getting worse. The swelling may be accompanied by numbness, discomfort and infection. There's no reliable way to assess your risk for lymphedema but by taking proper precautions you can greatly reduce your chances of developing the condition. Ask your doctor about scheduling physical therapy if you notice symptoms or consider seeing a physical therapist even before symptoms begin in order to minimize their chance of developing in the first place.
- Get exercise
Gentle exercise during treatment, such as regular walks, can help with both the mental and physical effects of treatment. After treatment is completed, increasing your exercise gradually will help improve your fatigue and rebuild muscle tone. If you have difficulty exercising or aren't sure what to do, request a referral to a physical therapist from your medical provider.
- Bone health
Keeping your bones healthy throughout your life is important; however, if you're woman who's been diagnosed with breast cancer, bone health is especially important. Talk with your healthcare team about specific recommendations for keeping bones healthy, taking calcium and vitamin D and appropriate weight-bearing exercises to help keep bones strong.
- Treatment and work
Some people are ale to work throughout their cancer treatment. You may want to talk with your employer about options such as flextime, job sharing or working from home. Options like these may help your mind and body ease back into the demands of your job.