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  • Writer's pictureJulie Brand

After the diagnosis / Now what?

I never called my breast cancer experience a 'journey' because a journey is something I want to do and I never wanted to do this..!

When the doctor told me I had breast cancer, I just didn’t hear another word he said.

I had no idea what that meant or when I was going to die. It would have been good had he given me a fact sheet to read that night at home and it would have been really helpful had he told me that I wasn’t going to die tomorrow.

This happened to me back in 2002 which was way before Dr Google and I’m very glad about that because not everything you read on the Internet is true. Remember that!

Things move quickly

Slowly I climbed out of that deep dark hole because things moved very quickly after my diagnosis. I was whisked off to hospital and several days later, I woke up with no right breast.

Funnily enough, there was no pain before or after the mastectomy. Slowly slowly, I crawled out of that deep dark hole but it would have been really helpful if someone had given me some facts.

Like the percentage of women who survive breast cancer, for instance. Now, in 2021 that number is an astonishing 93%..!

Ok, it’s only referring to a 5-year survival period but when you’re in emotional freefall, 5 years is way better than tomorrow!

I know a lot of progress has been made in recent years regarding all cancer therapies but that information should be given to every single woman immediately following her breast cancer diagnosis, in my opinion. (This is only common sense...or is it only women who have common sense?)

Chemotherapy and Radiation

The less spoken about chemotherapy and radiation the better but although these therapies are grisly, they keep us alive for many years following our breast cancer, so they are a necessary evil and simply must be endured.

So if you need to have chemotherapy and radiation (and not every single woman needs it) all that can take up to a year to complete, and maybe longer. Your particular therapy depends on your particular pathology and your oncologist and your team of medicos. So you must put yourself in their very capable, experienced and caring hands because really, all of our medicos look after us beautifully.

We survive because of them and all the research that is constantly going on in the background.

So if you ever get a breast cancer diagnosis, remember that incredibly high survival rate and think about the fact that many other forms of cancer have no loud noisy female lobby groups because there are no survivors!

You've been unlucky, but not that unlucky...

I'm living proof of that, 19 years later and I'm still here living a fabulous and healthy life.

I hope that gives you some comfort as you are going through the hardest part, just after the diagnosis.

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