There are few things in life more devastating than finding out that you have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
While awareness of the condition is widespread, few people talk about how you will have to handle your life once you hear from the doctor.
While there's no one right path that you can take to live with cancer, there are certainly things you can do to make sure that you are able to handle your life after your diagnosis.
Stop and Think
There are many different first reactions to the dreaded diagnosis of cancer.
Some are angry, while others are afraid. Some even react to the news with a surprising amount of equanimity - but what's important to know is that there's not one right way to react.
You deserve to take some time for yourself to stop and process what is happening in your life. There are changes coming soon and you'll be the one who has to live with them.
It's a good idea to spend some time avoiding existential dread and compiling a list of questions that you need answered.
Some of these questions are best answered by physicians, while others might need to go to your friends and family.
The best way for your to move forward is with the right information and the right attitude.
Understand the Prognosis
While it is easy - and perhaps natural - to panic about your diagnosis, it's important that you take a moment to consider what it means for your future.
A diagnosis of breast cancer is no longer a death sentence, especially if caught early.
In fact, those with a Stage 0 or Stage 1 diagnosis have a near one hundred percent survival rate over five years.
For many, this kind of encouragement isn't just a necessity - it's the only thing that will keep them fighting during what may be an arduous process.
Breast cancer prognostics are a great place to start, as they can spur you onward. It's a good idea to get valid information about what you will go through in your treatment once you know what might happen next. You will hear quite a bit from many different sources and it's up to you to know the difference between the facts and misinformation.
Talk to doctors about your options - stay away from well-meaning friends and coworkers who seem to have all the answers.
Assemble Your Team
You will absolutely need “a solid support structure" in place to get through your treatment.
While it might be obvious that this should include a fantastic medical team who can treat your cancer with the care and expertise you deserve, it's also important to remember the other supports you will need.
While you are dealing with treatment, the rest of your life will keep moving. It's often difficult to think about, but you'll need help for many activities of daily life. Make sure you have people on whom you can rely to drive you to and from the hospital, to watch your children, and even help out around the house.
You need to focus on yourself while you're battling cancer - others can pick up the slack in other areas of your life.
What do you do after being diagnosed with breast cancer?
You stop, you compose yourself, you find out more about your chances, and you figure out how best to move forward.
You don't have to rely upon yourself during this journey and you certainly don't have to live only on fear. You have every chance to not just survive, but to thrive.
You may not be able to take control of your health at the moment, but you can make the decisions that will impact your future.
Breast cancer is an enemy to be fought, and like all enemies the first step towards ensuring its defeat is to come up with a plan of attack.