Disbelief. Confusion. Fear.

When you hear the words ‘breast cancer’ for the first time as your doctor reveals your test results, the emotions that wash over vary in specifics and intensity. Each woman will react differently and that’s an important insight on moving forward; each woman’s breast cancer journey is unique and personal to her. Wanting to be cured is likely the only universal emotion present at the time of diagnosis.

Breast cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the breast tissues. It remains the most common cancer diagnosed in Canadian women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers), with 26,900 new diagnoses projected this year. That’s about 74 women each day who hear the words, ‘breast cancer’, for the first time applied to their own health. For the majority of women, the diagnosis occurs in the early-stages of the disease.

Significant progress has been made in breast cancer care. There are different approaches to testing and treatment depending on the cancer type, your doctor’s advice, even your geographical location. It can be a very confusing time.

You may go online and start googling and before you know it, you’re so deep within a vortex that you are not quite sure what to think and who to believe. There are many choices and decisions to consider, including a variety of treatment approaches like surgery, radiation, drug therapy and chemotherapy. Overwhelming to say the least.

There are resources to help you navigate this journey and make the decisions that will be best for you – as an individual with breast cancer. Our own mybreastcancercompass.ca site may be helpful with many links to other resources and support. 

It’s incredibly important to keep in mind that everyone’s treatment plan is personal. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to treatment and living with breast cancer, but through active discussions with your physician and network of support, a personal plan designed for ‘you’ can be created. 

Diagnostic testing technologies are evolving at a rapid rate and can provide insight into the biology of your tumour, such as the hormonal receptor status or changes in the HER2 gene. These tests can target the most effective therapy to treat your tumour. It’s important to discuss the specifics of your breast cancer with your oncologist, so that you can fully understand what treatment options are available to you. In Canada, we are fortunate to count on a variety of diagnostics tests and treatments for breast cancer that can help you make the best choice, for better chances of remission and recovery. 

Sometimes the most important thing when deciding with your doctor how to look at your individual situation is to know your options from the beginning. That’s the first step you can take to support your decision-making and determining your own path of treatment.

Unique. Individual. YOU. That should be the basis for your breast cancer treatment plan.