In their own words: Living with breast cancer
Even when women are told their breast cancer is in remission, for many the fight continues.
One in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lives, according to Breastcancer.org. Today, there are tools that can help them cope with the diagnosis, the treatment and the journey that follows.
Locally, many women turn to the survivorship program at Cape Cod Healthcare Oncology Services. The program offers counseling and long-term support services.
“The fear of reoccurrence is very hard to deal with and support is definitely needed,” said program manager Jeffrey Gaudet. “There are many times after a lumpectomy or mastectomy where a woman is told, ‘we got it all,’ but there could still be microscopic cancer cells, which is why women continue to use anti-cancer oral medication for up to a decade after treatment.”
“Taking those pills can be a real reminder to a woman that she’s not out of the woods. She needs family and friends to continue to be supportive because she is feeling that the guarantee of life is not always there.”
Gaudet, who has been working within the survivorship program since 2010, said breast cancer patients generally continue to see their oncologist every four to six months over a five-year-period.
But many women need emotional support to deal with how their lives have been significantly altered.
“Cancer is a chronic disease,” Gaudet said. Even when people are put into remission, they still suffer from long-lasting side effects and need care and support revolving around these. It’s truly an ongoing process.”
Cape Cod Health News asked three women to share their own journey with breast cancer: