For Patients - ABCD

For Patients

You have breast cancer. Now what? 

Just Diagnosed

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is the start of an emotional roller coaster. There is a lot of information to sort through, but most only hear…“you have breast cancer.”

Our goal is to provide you with the personalized information and peer support you need to be empowered and informed in your decision making, so you can make the best decisions for you.

We provide personalized information, connections to key resources and peer support.  Our signature 1:1 Match Mentoring service will provide you with customized peer support that considers the whole person – your diagnosis, treatment plans and personal concerns.

Contact us for any of these services at 1.800.977.4121 or programdept@abcdmentor.org.

Second Opinions

If at any time you are not comfortable with the recommendations made by any of your doctors, or you would simply feel more confident getting information from more than one physician, it is your right to seek a second opinion.

It is important for you to have peace of mind about all aspects of your breast cancer surgery and treatment. You may want to consider seeking an opinion from a physician connected with a breast center, major teaching hospital or comprehensive cancer center. Most physicians are not offended by your seeking another opinion, knowing that each patient needs to be comfortable with her treatment decisions. If you would like to discuss a second opinion, call our Support Center at 1.800.977.4121.

Read more about second opinions.

Treatment Decisions

Remember that you make the final decision on your course of treatment. You are doing the right thing when you gather information so that you can make an informed decision. Whatever decision you make it should be the right one for you; it does not have to be the one someone else would choose.

You can always ask others around you to respect your decision. You are a vital part of your breast cancer care team and you have the right to all the knowledge your doctors have about your condition and to discuss with them the best choices for you. Do not be afraid to ask any question and make sure you understand all of your options and why they are being recommended.

Breast Cancer Trials

Many people are afraid of clinical trials, fearing that they may possibly be denied treatment. Cancer trials assure that every patient receives treatment and they are closely monitored. Any experimental drug is given free of charge, while standard treatment drugs are mostly paid for by insurance. More Information.

Pathology Reports

When you have a breast biopsy, the tissue is sent to a pathologist (a physician who has been trained for several years to examine tissue in the lab and under a microscope). The pathologist sends a report to your surgeon that gives important information that will guide your treatment recommendations. More Information.

Beyond Treatment

What comes after your treatment ends? Will you return to life as usual? How will you know if the cancer comes back? What then? These are all normal questions.

Your life has changed. You had (or have) breast cancer. You may be left with fatigue and may still be re-growing your hair. You and your doctor can discuss a plan that includes managing any side effects you may have, scheduling follow-up exams and tests, as well as determining what medications you may be taking.

You might be going back to work, looking for a new job or perhaps you worked through treatment. Suddenly, you take back the time you spent in active treatment. Do what you enjoy doing. Be sure to clear any physical activity with your doctor. Listen to your body and rest when you feel tired. Report any symptoms you experience to your doctor. Discuss your: “new normal” with a breast cancer survivor on ABCD’s Support Center at 1.800.977.4121.

More Information.

Reconstruction

There are two basic types of breast reconstruction: implant reconstruction and autologous reconstruction (using tissue from another part of your own body). Reconstructive options are usually recommended by a plastic surgeon. She/he will need to know the details of your personal case history, stage, pre-existing conditions, and overall health status to determine your eligibility for reconstructive techniques.

Reconstruction after surgery for breast cancer is an option, but is not required. Connect with a survivor who had the type of reconstruction you are considering. Call our Support Center at 1.800.977.4121.

More Information.

Resource Testimonials

  • One of ABCD’s Match Specialists was able to help a caller being treated for metastatic breast cancer apply to the Help Now Fund as well as research resources for aid with living expenses.
  • One of ABCD’s Match Specialists was able to connect a caller in danger of losing her home to her local fair housing council for help with keeping her home from going into foreclosure.

Glossary of Terms

Here is a good and easy to understand glossary of terms.

Tips for Finding Resources

  • We suggest you visit reliable sites that are professionally maintained and reviewed regularly.  ABCD trusts the resources listed here and we welcome additional recommendations.
  • Listings include those that provide their information/services nationally. Local and regional organizations are not listed
  • Staff will assist with finding local and regional resources For assistance, call our Support Center at 1.800.977.4121
  • Multiple sources of assistance can be utilized at the same time
  • Be sure to record the names of the people you speak with and keep good notes, perhaps in a folder or journal.  A calendar with appointments and calls you need to make is always helpful.