William Nakulski

Cancer. It’s amazing the weight that one single six-letter word can carry. In an instant, the whole course of your future comes screeching to a halt as you try to process what you were just told. As scary as it sounds, when you look at the numbers it’s even scarier: An estimated 50% of American men and one third of American women will be diagnosed with one of the more than 100 types of cancer during their lives. Out of all of the American women, one out of eight will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Although the rates of breast cancer-related deaths have been decreasing since 1989, an estimated 40,610 women in the United States alone are expected to die from breast cancer in 2017 and 252,710 new invasive breast cancer diagnoses are expected to be delivered. Even though a quarter of a million women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, receiving the diagnosis and moving forward can feel isolating and terrifying. However, you aren’t alone, and with this guide for next steps following a breast cancer diagnosis, you can make sure you’re taking the best steps forward for your health and wellbeing.

  • Don’t make any hasty decisions.
    • Learning that you have breast cancer can be a traumatizing experience, with many people looking to start treatment as soon as possible. However, before you start treatment, it’s important that you take the time to sit down and consider your options. While breast cancer is certainly serious, it’s more important that you are well-informed about moving forward and make a choice that you’re most comfortable with.
  • Gather all of the information about treatment options.
    • No two cancers are exactly alike, so treatments will differ drastically from one cancer to another; after all, you don’t treat leukemia the same way that you treat melanoma. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have all of the best, most current information on breast cancer and the treatment options available. If you’re unsure where to start, ask your doctor.
  • Establish how informed you want to be.
    • For some people, coping and dealing with breast cancer is best done by pouring through every piece of reading material available to learn as much about the disease as they can. Others find solace in ignorance and want to know as little about the disease as possible. Still others fall somewhere in the middle. For your own sanity, try to determine just how informed you want to be about your diagnosis and treatments so you can feel comfortable speaking with health professionals and loved ones.