POINTERS ON MAKING YOUR TREATMENT DECISION
· As difficult as it is, try to take emotion out of your treatment decision.
· Be as objective as you possibly can be under the circumstances.
· Talk to your doctors and find out what stage breast cancer you have.
· Ask them what your treatment options are and the pluses and minuses for each choice.
· Ask your doctors what your chance of recurrence is with each treatment option.
· If you are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, or have a few close blood relatives who have had breast cancer, ovarian cancer or melanomas; then have the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene counseling to decide about taking the gene mutation blood/saliva test.
· If you are positive for the gene mutation then consider having a double mastectomy. Depending on your age and whether you still want to give birth to your own children, consider having your ovaries removed.
· AGAIN, PLEASE do your own research to choose the treatment which is right for YOU!
· If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, YOU must carefully analyze your alternatives. Please choose the treatment which gives you the best chance of survival with the least chance for recurrence while considering the possible side effects of each option.
· Ask your doctors many questions. Never be afraid to speak up. You are the patient, and your doctor is there to serve YOU.
POINTS FROM DR. BARRY:
· Yes, ask your doctor's questions but keep in mind how overwhelmed you are.
· Take notes.
· Have someone go with you and let them take notes.
· Ask the doctor if you can tape record the visit.
· Patients have a tendency to not get the information the first or second go around. Answering the same question over and over again can overwhelm the doctor.
· Remember, you are not their only patient.
· Doing your own research is also helpful.
In 2006, at age 41, Andrea learned she had breast cancer. She joined approximately 2.5 million women in the United States who are breast cancer survivors. During her extensive research, the treatment choices offered for early stage breast cancer shocked her. Having her breasts removed as one of the treatment options surprised her the most.
Andrea's skills as an attorney guided her through four years of researching breast cancer and writing this book. She writes from a layperson and survivor's viewpoint rather than from a medical perspective. Andrea lives in San Diego with her two children. She has used her breast cancer experience to transform her personal health and is now in the best physical shape of her life.
Her consultant, Dr. Barry Handler, is a board-certified plastic surgeon with over 10 years of experience in breast reconstruction. His life has been touched personally by the disease, and he takes a special interest in post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. Dr. Handler verified the medical information in this book and contributed vital knowledge for the readers. Dr. Handler lives in San Diego with his family.