- Vicki Tosher, 21-year and 10-year survivor
Important Things to Remember
Some of the Most Important Things to Remember When You Hear, "You Have Breast Cancer"
- There are approximately 2.4 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. and about 42,000 in Colorado. Regardless of your diagnosis, there is much life to be lived each day after you hear, "You have breast cancer." Live it one day at a time as big as you can.
- With most diagnoses, you have time to make decisions; this includes time to put together a complete medical team. While the diagnosis of cancer is certainly life-changing, it may be more of an emotional emergency than a medical emergency. You need quite a bit of information about your diagnosis to make educated decisions.
- It is a good thing to ask questions-of your doctors, family, friends, spiritual guide, and yourself-until you have all the questions answered and understand them.
- Learn as much as you want to and as much as you can handle about your diagnosis, your type of breast cancer, and your treatment options.
- Think about the treatment options offered. Try to get a second opinion, not because you don't trust the first one but because it is good to get confirmation.
- There should be good science behind treatment. Your treatment should not just be based on "what a friend had" or what the doctor's been doing for years. Breast cancer research is making great strides. What was standard 15 years ago or 5 years ago may not be standard today. Every case is differentâ€”from the location of a tumor to its size to the type of cells in it. Treatment based on sound research evidence truly is best.
- The day will come when breast cancer will NOT be the last thing you think about before falling asleep at night or the first thing you think about when you awaken in the morning.
- Get support in the way you feel is best for you and from the people you feel are right for you.
- Reduce the stress in your life as much as possible. Accept help from people who want to give it, let people know what you need, spend time in pleasant places, find many reasons to laugh, exercise and eat right, pamper yourself, love yourself.
- Never lose track of the fact that you are the centerpiece of this process. Life somehow needs to revolve around you, not you around it.
- The old normal isn't normal anymore. Look forward to a new normal-it will come.
- You are on a journey. You will meet amazing people along the way. Know that you are not alone, no matter how much you might feel as though you are. There is always someone close by to help. Reach out and grasp a hand reaching out to you.
- Learn to take advantage of every opportunity-whether it is watching a sunrise because you can't sleep, talking to strangers because they happen to be walking the same path as you, volunteering for a cause you believe in, or accepting an offered ticket to an event you might otherwise not have attended. Experience and absorb everything you want and can-drink it up, like a newly opened bottle of wine, or inhale it, like the smell of freshly baked bread.
- You are a member of an extraordinary new community. You did not ask to be a member. No one who is did. You can do what you want with your membership. Know you are welcome.