|October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month|
If you have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, you probably have some unanswered questions and concerns. Chances are good, too, that your doctor gave you a lot of information in a short time, and that you didn’t absorb it all right away. If this describes you, take heart. Help is just a phone call away.
We understand that people with serious illnesses -- like breast cancer -- often need the support of a knowledgeable and caring healthcare professional. That’s why we have made health coaches available by phone, anytime, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no charge to you.
Health coaches are specially trained healthcare professionals, such as nurses, dietitians, and respiratory therapists. They have access to the most up-to-date and reliable health information available. Health coaches can explain the different treatment options for breast cancer, and can help you work with your doctor to make a decision that’s best for you.
Women with early stage breast cancer typically have two major treatment options. They can have a mastectomy, surgery to remove the entire breast, or they can have a lumpectomy, surgery to remove only the breast tumor and a border of healthy tissue around it, saving the breast. Women who have a lumpectomy (also called breast-conserving surgery) usually also have radiation therapy.
If you have early stage breast cancer, the choice you make between mastectomy and lumpectomy will not make a difference in how long you will live. Still, there are important differences between the surgeries. The decision you make will depend on how you feel about these differences, which include:
• How long you spend in treatment and how much it disrupts your life.
• How your body looks after surgery.
• The chance that your cancer might come back in the breast or breast area.
If you are facing difficult choices about your treatment for breast cancer, a health coach can help. He or she can answer your questions and also help you prepare questions to discuss with your doctor. If appropriate, a health coach will send you a complimentary videotape, such as:
• Early Stage Breast Cancer: Choosing Your Surgery
• Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS): Choosing Your Treatment
• Early Breast Cancer: Hormone Therapy And Chemotherapy, Are They Right For You?
• Breast Reconstruction: Is It Right For You?
• Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer: Making The Journey Your Own
To talk to a health coach, call 1-800-658-2750. You can also get information online at www.thedialogcenter.com/bcbsnd.
-- Amanda Eickhoff, Assistant Director for Work Well, Wellness Center, firstname.lastname@example.org, 701.777.0210