Breast Cancer Awareness: What happens and what questions should you ask after a diagnosis?

Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 6:04 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we at TV20 want to keep you up to date with the latest recommendations and information.

We have teamed up with experts at North Florida Regional Medical Center to find out what they recommend patients do if they are diagnosed with breast cancer.

“When the word cancer is ever mentioned in a medical consultation, it’s overwhelming, it’s upsetting. A million thoughts go through your head and basically your brain shuts down,” North Florida Regional Medical Center and North Florida Radiation Oncology Medical Director Dr. Cherylle Hayes said.

According to Dr. Hayes, breast cancer diagnoses are down more than 50% since the pandemic started. She said this worries her because people may be delaying or are not going in for screening at all.

Initially, patients go through diagnostic mammography so they get a screening mammogram. Some patients may require further imaging which could include ultrasounds and further imaging with breast MRIs.

“Many patients come to me and they’ll say I don’t know what to ask. That can be your first question, what do I need to know about my breast cancer?” Dr. Hayes said.

She also recommends patients bring a loved one in with them to help them take notes.

You can start out by writing down a list of questions like:

  • “What kind of breast cancer do I have?”
  • “How aggressive is it?”
  • “What is my clinical stage?”
  • “Do I need more studies?”
  • “Who is part of my treatment team?”

Dr. Hayes also said it is important to meet the breast team and ask if there is a breast cancer navigator available for you.

“I think knowledge is power so I feel like giving them their specifics for their breast cancer and what applies to them, familiarizing them with what they need to do can really offer them comfort and support. Not getting lost in the trees of what could happen in every breast cancer,” Nurse Oncology Navigator Hillary Bailey said.

Breast Cancer Navigators like Bailey can provide educational resources throughout the diagnosis.

“So personalizing it to them and showing them what they need to pay attention to I feel is very important and very helpful,” she said.

With breast cancer affecting men and women year-round, experts say there is help out there if you are diagnosed.

“Whether its big whether its small, we will be there for them. Whether they need a little bit of help or help through out the entire continuum, we will be there for them and hold their hand,” Bailey said.

To check out our recent article about when and how often a patient should get screened for breast cancer, click here.

For more information on how to schedule a consultation or screening, click here.

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