Breast Cancer DIY

...created by women with breast cancer, for women and men with breast cancer!

Things Your Doctor Never Tells You!

These are subjects that have been discussed in Cancer Support Groups:

    Dental and Chemotherapy
    Nutritional Needs
    Paranoid About Recurrence
    Telling Family About Cancer

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Image "I'm taking chemo, and now I have trouble remembering things, and completing sentences, like I'm getting Alzheimer's disease, what's going on?"
In an issue of Cure magazine, the article "Lost in the Fog" explains that this is very common. Doctors call it "Cognitive Dysfunction," we call it "chemobrain." The article stated "Their finding were that 32% of the patients treated with high-dose chemotherapy and 17% of patients treated with standard-dose chemotherapy had cognitive impairment when tested with standard neuropsychological tests, while only 9% of the control patients showed impairment." The complete article can be read online at: 

 Chemobrain:                          Chemobrain:  
American Cancer Society
                        Mayo Clinic

 Chemobrain:                        More on Chemotherapy 


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Dental and Chemotherapy

Image My doctor didn't advise me to see my dentist BEFORE beginning chemotherapy, why is this so important?
Cancer treatments (chemo or radiation) have many side effects which can affect your mouth. It is important to get dental work completed, if possible, before beginning your treatment. There are products which can be used to treat these side effects. Your dentist can best advise you about your individual situation. 

 National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

 Dental Information

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Image Why didn't my doctor discuss "Lymphedema" with me after my surgery? What is it?
Lymph nodes are located through our bodies, if during surgery, lymph nodes were removed, you may be subject to lymphedema. (there is a Lymphedema section on this forum) It is prudent for you to wear a medic alert bracelet or pendant to indicate that you are at risk. Lymphedema bracelets can be obtained locally everywhere. Check with your doctor or check your phone book: Hospitals, Hospice, Cancer Centers - for locations on where to obtain a bracelet. Some Jewelry stores can make a version of the alert bracelet.  However, you do not want to make it so fancy that the Paramedics miss it, especially if you are unconscious and unable to advise them of your lymphedema.

 Lymphedema            Medical Alert Bracelet  
(resources & links)                (Lymphedema webpage)    

 Questions to ask your doctor

 Questions to ask your insurance provider  

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Nutritional Needs

Image My doctor didn't discuss nutritional needs while taking chemotherapy.
Many patients receiving chemotherapy complain about not being able to eat, or that food has a "metallic" taste. Proper nutrition during this time is a challenge, and sometimes a visit to a nutritionist may be a very good idea. Our bodies require a balance of nutrition when we are well, and it is even more important when we are undergoing treatment. If you are not able to eat, supplements are vital to maintain your body's health. However, be sure to advise your doctor if you are taking "holistic supplements, herbal preparations, and antioxidants", these may adversely effect your treatments.

  Nutrition and Cancer

 More on Nutrition

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Paranoid about Recurrence

  "I seem to worry about recurrence so much, am I being paranoid?"

 Not at all - concern about your cancer returning is an issue that is faced by every cancer patient.  It is something that you learn to live with.  That is not to say that it goes away, it doesn't.  Every new pain, every new experience that you have relating to your health, can bring on the old "oh my gosh, is IT back?”  The best suggestion is that now you need to be pro-active about your body.  We all know that we have pains, strange feelings, flu, colds, headaches, etc, in the normal course of living.  If we were not cancer survivors, we wouldn't think that every new pain was a crisis.  You need to just be aware -- not scared!

If the situation lingers, or it is a lump in the other breast, or you have some kind of normal breast cancer related symptoms, of course, be sure you see your doctor.  But don't dwell on the little stuff that occurs in life.  Learn to distinguish between what could be a problem,  and what is simply a normal process in our bodies -- getting older as a cancer survivor presents challenges,  because as we age we normally have some "getting older problems".    The only rule of thumb that I can suggest is,  be prudent and bring problems to your doctor,  but not to the extent that he/she hears so many from you, that they "stop hearing you".   Remember the story of the little boy who called wolf?  We need to recognize true problems, and not bog our doctors down with "sniffles" "gas pains" or "sinus headaches."  Remember,  you must now learn to KNOW your new body - because after Chemotherapy and Radiation your body isn't the same as it was before, plus Survival means getting older and "getting old ain't for sissies". – Marion/BCDIY-breast cancer survivor-personal statement

  Treatments & Care

  Therapy For Breast Cancer


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Telling Family about Cancer

Image "I have small children, and I don't know how to tell them about my cancer."
The American Cancer Society has a wonderful book "It Helps To Have Friends - When Mom or Dad has Cancer" just for this situation. It is appropriate for elementary and middle school age children whose mom or dad have cancer, and it helps the children to see the importance of discussing their thoughts and feelings with people they trust. 

  Talking about cancer 

 More on Relationships

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 Discussion topics are from “Still Kickin’ Cancer Thriver’s Newsletter” in Hemet, California Marion/BCDIY was editor of this newsletter, which was copied by the ACS Riverside California, for distribution in the Inland Empire, Riverside County, CA

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