Sunday, 2 September 2007

Sunday Seven: Seven messages for the newly diagnosed

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My mom's friend was diagnosed with breast cancer the other day. Since I've already been down the breast cancer path, she asked me to send this friend a supportive e-mail. I've done this before -- reach out to someone newly diagnosed -- but it's never easy. I never know quite what to say. Somehow, I figure it out, though.

Here are seven of the messages I shared with this woman who is just beginning her journey with Paget's disease of the breast, a form of breast cancer that shows up in the nipple as an itchiness or scaling that doesn't get better.
  • In the face of uncertainty, worry, and fear, here's some good news: once you gain more and more information about your diagnosis, the easier it gets. The waiting really is the hardest part. Knowing what lies ahead will give you some control over your path.

  • Be strong, be weak, be a crazy person -- it's all necessary as you fight and recover and heal.

  • You may not know it now, but you will become the toughest person you know.

  • In time, you will encounter far more good than bad from this experience. Just be on the lookout, and you'll see.

  • Reading is good (Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book is the bible on breast cancer) but it can be scary too, especially on the Internet. Be careful.

  • Be an advocate for your own health. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't -- so pursue it until it does feel right.

  • And finally, I offered to connect this friend with other breast cancer survivors. She's already taken me up on this offer.
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