Recently I came across an excellent book “Breast Cancer – Answers at your fingertips”. Oh how I wish this sort of book had been available to me 22 years ago when I travelled my breast cancer journey alone. Sadly this book and all the other such books had yet to be written because cancer was not openly talked about that many years ago. Consequently I experienced my bumpy, sometimes frightening ride without a lot to read to prepare me for the unexpected hazards I encountered around every bend.
Happily times have changed for the better, and today bookshops are full of this type of book which means women, their families and friends, and not forgetting some men now have first class information about the disease and ways to combat it at their fingertips. To find out and arm oneself with information is the best way I know to acquire strength and knowledge which can help dispense fears and equip one to cope with the unknown. Many books are full of sound knowledge, facts about breast cancer and expert advice, and if information is given in a straightforward way it can help create a calm response to diagnosis and a positive approach to recommended treatments. Reading such books can provide answers to questions, while clear explanations, diagrams and illustrations can offer some re-assurance during the trauma of initial diagnosis.
We all experience confusion, anger, distress and fright in varying degrees, from the first signs and symptoms through to the final diagnosis of breast cancer. And irrespective of colour, class, creed or age many women will look for answers to the question “why me”? The most informative of books will have up to date advice on latest research and treatments to help guide women through the breast cancer journey. By explaining how each of us is unique and that all cancers are dissimilar, reading books can dispel unfounded myths, explain the benefits of complimentary therapies and help us understand and come to terms with, diagnosis and recommended treatment.
If you are embarking on your journey, or travelling down the road for a second time my personal tip is to read as much as you can, make a list of your concerns and keep asking your medical team questions. Take notes of advice you are given. If you are unsure of anything or have specific concerns, ask for a more thorough explaination, this will help you avoid unnecessary worry and stress. Or why not contact one of the cancer support organisations whose websites are another excellent source of information? Some hospital breast care units have specially trained cancer counsellors to help advice and support patients, so talk to them. If you are just starting out on the breast cancer journey it is so important that you digest and think through all the information you are given so you can be sure before you make important decisions. You alone must feel confident when you finally give your consent to the medical team to proceed with recommended surgery, treatment and care. Remember it is your body and you should be in control when you give them permission to start down the road.
As you make your traumatic journey you may discover a positive and unexpected benefit from your breast cancer experience. Your view of life will sharpen, and life itself may feel richer and more precious. As a survivor I know, because it happened to me and strange as it may seem my breast cancer experience enriched my life. And now I don’t intend to waste a single day of it!