Advice for Breast Cancer Patients..

… eat avocados — if you’re doing chemo.

I’ll tell you the basics and hopefully my experience will help you if you need it… understand that I’m a Dr…. of philosophy, not a physician and that all of my experiences could easily be unique to me…

I was diagnosed with stage 2b breast cancer, aggression level III (really aggressive) — ductal tumor on the left side.  I had a lumpectomy, followed by a mastectomy on the left — nothing on the right.  They removed 7 lymph nodes.  I did A/C and then something else for chemo for four months, no radiation.  My cancer wasn’t hormone receptive or genetic — so I have no follow-up treatments.  I’ve had clean PET/CT scans and bloodwork for 3 years this month.

With all that as background — here are a few hints and tips for breast cancer patients.

  • Your tastes will get more sensitive, eat subtle flavors like avocados… trust me.  I miss the way they used to taste.
  • Drink lots of water before and after chemo.
  • Accept that your hair will fall out.
  • Decide what you’d like to do when your hair falls out — and then understand that you’ll eventually be comfortable being bald.
  • Being bald is convenient.
  • As soon as you can, get a good prosthesis — Nordstrom’s is the best, if you have one close.
  • Your good prosthesis may develop bubbles at altitude (who knew), it also begins to sag and wear out, so you’ll need to replace it about once per year…. your insurance will probably cover it, plus bras.
  • If you decide not to do reconstruction, you may choose to do so at a later date and your insurance must cover it.
  • Wear comfortable clothes to chemo — bring a book and plan to nap.
  • Don’t be afraid to go out without your fake boob — I do it more often than I’d like to admit.
  • Make sure you have a close circle of friends and family watching out for you — you’ll need some help.
  • Make sure you get along with your oncologist.
  • If you aren’t comfortable with your treatment, speak up.
  • If you’re nauseous a lot, speak up over and over again until they get it under control.
  • Your port is your friend — and it’s 100% under the skin.
  • Make chemo buddies — someone to chat with while you’re getting your infusion is so pleasant.
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