Educate Yourself You may feel as if you have lost control of your life. In order to regain charge, educate yourself about breast cancer and treatment options. You will be making many decisions in the near future. The best way to make the right decision for you is to have the most information you can. Books on breast cancer and reputable Internet sources are a great place to begin learning. Be sure to look for the most current information available. Breast cancer treatments are becoming more and more advanced everyday, and information quickly becomes outdated. Also, look at many sources in order to find the most complete information possible.
Questions for Your Doctor Your doctor will be willing to answer any questions that you may have. Below is a starter list of good questions to ask your doctor and/or medical team:
What type of breast cancer do I have?
Is my cancer in situ or invasive?
Has my cancer spread beyond the primary site?
What is the stage of my cancer and what does that mean in my case?
What treatments are appropriate for me? What do you recommend? Why?
What are the risks of side effects that I should expect?
What should I do to get ready for treatment?
What are the chances of recurrence of cancer with the treatment programs we have discussed?
What is my expected prognosis, based on my cancer as you view it?
Help and Encouragement Your medical team – a surgeon, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, and any other medical professional – are great people to help you make decisions. However, you may also want to talk to a counselor or medical social worker to talk through issues and help make the best decision for you. Many men find it encouraging to speak with other men who have cancer and inspiring to hear the many survival stories.
Telling Others One of the first challenges you may face is how to tell the people closest to you. If you have children, telling them can be difficult, no matter what their ages. It’s best to be as honest as you can, yet you do not have to give all the details. How much and what you say will depend on each child’s age and their ability to understand. It isn’t a good idea to try to hide your illness. Instead, tell them you are doing everything you can to get well. You may also be faced with the decision of whether or not to tell friends and coworkers. At first, you may not want anyone outside your family to know. However, you may find it helpful to confide in close friends and coworkers. Exactly how much and who you tell is still up to you. People may not always react the way you expect. Some may have feelings of anger, fear, or grief, while others may be incredibly supportive. Some people may not say much and may even avoid you, but it is not because they don’t care. They may not know what to say. Assure them that their concern is enough, and there are no right words.
Maintaining a Strong Support System Friends and family are often an integral part of your treatment. More and more research is finding that strong relationships are crucial in dealing with life-threatening illnesses. You may also find it helps to have the support of other men with cancer. Your doctor or a medical social worker can put you in touch with a group near you, or you may contact one of the many cancer organizations.
Taking Care of Yourself You’ll need to plan your schedule carefully, in order to ensure plenty of time for rest. Your friends and family want to help you, although they may not know how. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help and be specific about your needs. You will probably also want to stay as independent as possible. People may try to take over your life or act as if you’re terribly fragile in their effort to help. This can be detrimental to your recovery, so don’t hesitate to tell others how you want to be treated. Now is a great time to start taking better care of your general health, such as eating a better diet, getting regular exercise, and reducing stress. Stress-reduction techniques and exercise can actually help relieve some of the side effects associated with radiation and chemotherapy. Take time to examine your life and evaluate how you can achieve your goals. A new priority should be to live your life to the fullest.