You’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer. Now what?
During this time, there are more questions than answers and so. much. waiting. So much time to allow your brain to work in overdrive, asking all the “what if” questions.
Do not immediately start Googling everything you can because it will take you down rabbit holes, and as an amazing and wise friend told me, you will never find the answer you’re looking for.
So…what to do now?
Get Educated. Get Organized. Get Empowered. You need to put your head down and treat this like a job. Take a deep breath…
Here is your to-do list:
1) Figure out your insurance/finance situation
If you have heath insurance, call them immediately to find out if your coverage includes chemotherapy, radiation and breast cancer related surgeries. If it does, fantastic. (You should do this as soon as you receive your diagnosis, you don’t need to know your treatment plan.)
If it doesn’t, you’ll need to start looking for other options. Check out HealthCare.gov for Commercial insurance options. Once you know if you will need treatment (chemotherapy, immunotherapy, etc.) and your Oncologist tells you what therapies you’ll be given, you can find out if those pharmaceutical companies provide a co-pay card and/or patient assistance programs. Almost all of them do and they will significantly lower the cost of your treatment and some will even provide it to you at no cost. Do the work and identify these programs early!
Here are some resources:
CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation • Cover My Meds • Genentech Oncology Co-pay Assistance Program
Pfizer Co-pay Assistance • Need My Meds • Cancer Supportive Care • Rx Hope • Celgene Patient Support
2) Ask your healthcare team the important questions
Getting the answers to the most important questions is critical and you’ll want someone else to be with you to write everything down. I promise you, you will not remember anything as your head will be swimming! That’s ok, but give someone else that task so you don’t need to worry about it.
Here is a great list of questions to start with, then add your own as needed: Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Breast Cancer
3) Get educated
Once you’ve received your biopsy results and have a better understanding of your pathology report, take some time to get educated on exactly what everything means. The Education section of this site has some great resources to set you up for success.
Remember…knowledge is power and you deserve to feel empowered throughout this entire process!
4) Get prepared
When your treatment plan has been confirmed, get everything you’ll need to ensure you are as comfortable as possible. The Essentials page on this site is a great start and contains direct links to most of the items you’ll need during chemo, surgery and radiation.
5) Be patient and learn to let go
If there’s anything I wish I would’ve known at the beginning of my journey it is this:
Understand that not everything will go as originally planned, things will likely seem to take longer than anticipated to happen, you may need to pivot to a new plan with little to no warning, and you are not in control. The ability to go with the flow is paramount to your mental health during this process, so let go and continue to tell yourself that this is temporary and will not last forever.
“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than hanging on.” ~ Eckhart Tolle