WHAT NOW? Hearing the words “you have breast cancer” will immediately launch you into uncharted waters and may change your world in ways that you can’t begin to imagine, but we want you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are many resources available to help you navigate through every possible aspect of this life-changing event. In addition, we, the women of Beyond Boobs!®, have been there ahead of you and want to share some of the strategies that aided us in sailing through these rough passages – to give you “hope, inspiration, and power.”

“When sisters stand shoulder to shoulder, who stands a chance against us?” Pam Brown

Just as everyone is unique, each woman’s breast cancer is different due to factors such as her age and the stage and characteristics of the cancer. This means that the treatment options will also be different, and each woman has to evaluate the risks and benefits of her choices in the context of her own personal values and lifestyle. How women react to having this disease varies greatly as well. There are no rules for how you should act, feel, or respond. We ask you to remember that this is a time in your life when restoring your health should be your top priority. It is important to put yourself and healing first, and to call upon your “life support system” of friends and family to help you.

  • Attitude is everything – think of yourself as a survivor from the very beginning.
  • Recognize that you are not responsible for this disease, and let go of any regrets about things you could have done differently.
  • Make sure your doctors (and particularly your oncologist) are compatible with your personality and style – yours may be a very long relationship.
  • Find doctors you trust with your life – you ARE trusting them with your life!
  • Understand and learn about your treatment options, and consider getting a second opinion to make sure you have covered all the bases.
  • Decide how much information you want and need to have.
  • While the majority of the breast cancer information on the Internet is accurate, it may not apply to you and may be frightening to read.
  • Ask your healthcare practitioners to provide you with information about the resources available in your area to help you.
  • Consider whether you are a support group kind of person, and maybe try one anyway – other survivors are able to offer much strength, advice, and encouragement.
  • Surround yourself with positive things and positive people to make you smile. If anyone begins to share a cancer “horror” story with you, just politely ask them to stop. You don’t need that negativity, and that’s NOT your story.
  • Remember that although the diagnosis may be beyond your control, how you respond is within your control.
  • Take advantage of the online chat capability of the Internet to reach out virtually to other women with breast cancer.
  • Consider complementary therapies to treat your mind and spirit such as yoga, journaling, aroma therapy, meditation, prayer, guided imagery/ hypnotherapy, and massage therapy.
  • Know that you don’t have to be strong for everybody else around you.
  • Allow yourself to fully feel whatever emotions come along, whenever they come along.
  • Say “yes” when people offer to help.
  • Remember that it’s okay to cry, and sometimes the louder the better!
  • Bring someone with you to your appointments to take notes, be your second set of ears, and ask questions.
  • Consider keeping a blog, an online journal, to keep your friends and family members updated on your progress, or ask a family member to do this for you.
  • Read happy books, see happy movies, and listen to happy music.
  • Look for the silver lining in everything – after all, no hair means no bad hair days.
  • Know that you are not the disease – you are a vibrant, beautiful, special woman.
  • Anchor yourself to something that gives you inner strength – your family, your faith, your friends.
  • Celebrate the successes along the way.

Embrace hope and NEVER let go!