This is not going to be an analysis or breakdown of breast cancer from a technical or medical standpoint. I am not going to cover the different types of breast cancers and what they mean and the treatments and survival rates or any of that. If you want that you can google that or ask your doctor(and then they will probably google it). I am going to do something a little different this time. I am going to share with you my viewpoint on breast cancer from my doctor hat and from my own personal experiences with patients. No names of course.
Now breast cancer (or any cancer for that matter) is just not a fun thing to confront. It sucks. And I find that confront is one of the things that usually determines the outcome. Confront. Just the ability to confront it. To experience it. Now, this sounds simple enough but is actually the thing I see that stops patients in their tracks. The level of confront each individual has varies tremendously. This goes without saying. If their confront is high they are likely to jump in and take action to handle things right away. No lag at all. If the confront is not so high there is definitely a delay. With breast cancer(or any cancer) time is usually NOT on your side.
To me, there are really three areas to look at or confront. Screening, diagnosing and treating. I think each of these has a very different level of confront. Obviously, screening is for most, the easier thing to confront. But for some, this is very difficult. And despite what is put out there, a mammogram is the standard for screening. I don’t want this to turn into a debate on which screening method is the best as there are other types of screening methods used. And, obviously, the more types of methods used to screen can give a person more data to make a decision. But I see a handful of individuals who flat out avoid confronting getting a mammogram. They will do everything but the mammogram. By skipping this action you are not really screening for breast cancer. Just confront getting the mammogram. Get as much real and true data on mammography, know with certainty everything about mammography and you will be able to confront this.
Diagnosis is to know or identify exactly what is causing a problem. The word comes from the Greek origin “dia” meaning apart and “gignoskein” meaning recognize, know. Diagnosing breast cancer is another area that requires a lot of confront. Through working with your doctors you get through the screening or detection phase and it is discovered that there is something there. This is another area I see where a person’s level of confront is challenged. This is where I see a person take one of two paths. They either decide to know what is going on with their bodies and get a definitive diagnosis or they decide to ignore the screening findings. Believe it or not, it happens. Here is where we get the abnormal screening result and the person just doesn’t come back or follow up. Diagnosis is very important. If you don’t know exactly what you are dealing with you will not know how to treat it. Here is where it is very important to get things started. Again time is not on your side. This is where it is extremely important to get things figured out and not be stuck in mystery on things. That mystery is actually worse than knowing for sure.
Finally, there is the treatment of breast cancer. There are various degrees of treatment. Some are very simple and some are very radical. Whether it involves medications, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery, the treatments will vary to some degree. The earlier the detection of breast cancer typically means the lesser of the degree of treatments needed. This is not always the case but usually is true. This is another area where the level of confront has to be extremely high. It is definitely not easy to have to make decisions on this level with regard to your body. But again this is an area where your doctors will help you come up with the best treatment plan for your situation. I can not begin to express the importance of time once a person has reached this point. Again time is not on your side on this. And, unfortunately, this is where I feel and see a lot of people lose their fight. To me, this is where the amount of support that is needed to help the person confront the treatment far exceeds the confront needed in the earlier stages described above.
One in eight women in the United States will at some point in their life get breast cancer. Fortunately, the cure rates for breast cancers that are detected and treated early are very high. You guys can look them up or talk to your doctors about them. But again the key is early detection and treatment.
The United States Preventative Services Task Force, or USPSTF, is one governing body that makes recommendations on screenings. You can look at their recommendations or simply get with your doctor to decide when would be an appropriate time for you to be screened. I hope this helps.
If you are still unsure of what you want to do feel free to come in and talk to us and we will help you.
Rich Wallace MD