Approximately one out of every eight women in Trinidad and Tobago, will hear the words "You've got cancer," and in that instant, their lives will be forever transformed. The first step most people should attend to is the initial emotion was shock, followed by the question, "Am I going to die?" It is very important to get the facts about your cancer. It is crucial at this point that education is made a priority—that means learning all you can about the specifics of your own cancer and how to best treat it. “I have seen people waste a lot of precious time researching the wrong thing because they didn't really understand their cancer,” and making ill informed decisions that wasted time while their conditions become worst.
The Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society offers free counselling to cancer patients and their family. Also, TTCS provides a measure of relief with free transportation to treatment facilities at National Radiotherapy Center (NRC) at St James Medical Complex from both south and east Trinidad.
Firstly, it is important for each newly diagnosed patient and his/her family to arrive at a point of comfort levels as it relates to their diagnosis. When you are newly diagnosed, there needs to be intervals of information and education, counselling and advising. There should be no rush to bombard patients with an entire crash course in anatomy and pathophysiology in a few minutes. There is also the assumption that the patient wants to know everything, but some may really only want the big picture," he says. "Or, they want more information as time goes on. It is important to communicate this." The conversations in the clinical settings have led the above statements.
We should also encourage newly diagnosed patients to write down questions before meeting with your doctor. The American Cancer Society website includes a long list of potential questions which can be found in the "Learn about Cancer" section of the site, under the main heading, "Patients, Family and Friends." Sample questions, which can be printed and taken along on doctors’ visits, can also be found on WebMD. These are great conversation ideas with your medical team and gives the new patient a certain level of confidence and control.
When attending your health institution for post-biopsy results. It is advised to be in the company of someone you love and trust. Whether or not you feel comfortable to face the unknown results alone. This has happened to me personally and also after bad news has been delivered. The patients have stated that after the diagnosis they heard absolutely nothing the doctor was saying to them, but this is a normal reaction to shock and is often expected.
The different kinds of breast cancer
There are many types of breast cancer. Some are very rare. Your doctor can tell you more about the type you have. Below are the medical names for the most common types of breast cancer. (Carcinoma is another name for cancer. It’s pronounced CAR-sin-O-muh.)
Ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS DCIS is very early breast cancer. In DCIS, the cancer cells are only found inside the ducts. (Ducts are the tiny tubes that carry milk to the nipple). The cancer cells have not spread through the walls of the ducts into the nearby breast tissue. Nearly all women with DCIS can be cured (American Cancer Society 2017).
Lobular carcinoma in situ or LCIS -LCIS starts in the glands that make milk but does not grow through the walls of the glands. It’s not cancer, but women with LCIS have a higher chance of getting breast cancer. If you have LCIS, you should be sure to get mammograms the way your doctor tells you to (American Cancer Society 2017).
Invasive ductal carcinoma
This is the most common type of breast cancer. It starts in a milk duct of the breast and grows through the wall of the duct into the nearby breast tissue. It can spread to other parts of the body, too (American Cancer Society 2017).
Invasive lobular carcinoma
This breast cancer starts in the milk glands. These glands are called lobules (pronounced LOB-yules). It can spread to other parts of the body (Mayo Clinic 2018).
Inflammatory breast cancer or IBC This is a rare type of breast cancer. Most often, there’s no lump or tumour. IBC makes the skin of the breast look red and feel warm. The skin can also look thick and pitted – kind of like an orange peel. The breast may get bigger, harder, tender, or itchy. Because there’s no lump, IBC may not show up on a mammogram. This can make it harder to find IBC early. It’s more likely to spread and is harder to cure than invasive ductal or lobular cancer (American Cancer Society 2017).
The treatment team dietitian would offer advice on an individual basis to newly diagnosed Cancer patient’s based on a case by case assessment- taking into consideration the patient’s general health at the point of disease.
The Mayo Clinic:
Guidelines for Coping and support
A breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. And just when you're trying to cope with the shock and the fears about your future, you're asked to make important decisions about your treatment.
Every person finds his or her own way of coping with a cancer diagnosis. Until you find what works for you, it might help to:
Learn enough about your breast cancer to make decisions about your care. If you'd like to know more about your breast cancer, ask your doctor for the details of your cancer—the type, stage and hormone receptor status. Ask for good sources of up-to-date information on your treatment options.
Knowing more about your cancer and your options may help you feel more confident when making treatment decisions. Still, some women may not want to know the details of their cancer. If this is how you feel, let your doctor know that, too.
Talk with other breast cancer survivors. You may find it helpful and encouraging to talk to others in your same situation. Contact the American Cancer Society to find out about support groups in your area and online.
Find someone to talk about your feelings with. Find a friend or family member who is a good listener, or talk with a clergy member or counsellor. Ask your doctor for a referral to a counsellor or other professional who works with cancer survivors.
Keep your friends and family close. Your friends and family can provide a crucial support network for you during your cancer treatment.
As you begin telling people about your breast cancer diagnosis, you'll likely get many offers for help. Think ahead about things you may want assistance with, whether it's having someone to talk to if you're feeling low or getting help preparing meals.
Maintain intimacy with your partner. In all cultures, women's breasts are associated with attractiveness, femininity and sexuality. Because of these attitudes, breast cancer may affect your self-image and erode your confidence in intimate relationships. Talk to your partner about your insecurities and your feelings.