These tips can help you feel more confident in your treatment decision.
Hearing you have metastatic breast cancer is likely to cause a rush of emotions. You might feel anxious, overwhelmed, scared, and confused. One thing that may help is to create a plan and get organized after diagnosis with metastatic breast cancer.
You might feel tempted to avoid thinking about cancer, or even to be in denial about the diagnosis. However, taking certain steps after your diagnosis can help you feel more confident, organized, and informed.
What to Do After Diagnosis with Metastatic Breast Cancer
1. Understand your diagnosis
When you first hear the news, it’s understandable if you have trouble taking in the information. However, when you understand your diagnosis, you’ll be better able to make informed decisions about your treatment. Consider writing down questions for your next appointment, and bring a loved one who can be a second set of ears. They could even take notes for you so you can revisit the information later.
2. Practice self-care and find emotional support
Any cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, but metastatic breast cancer in particular may be hard. It’s okay to have a lot of feelings, and it’s okay to not feel optimistic all the time. It’s a good idea to prioritize your mental health during this time and find support.
The place where you are getting your cancer treatment will likely offer some mental health support. Ask or research if your facility offers:
- Social workers
- Meditation classes
- Peer support groups
3. Consider seeking a second opinion
You might feel like you’re “cheating” on your doctor by getting a second opinion from another doctor. However, this is not the case. Many doctors encourage you to take the time to consult another doctor. It can help you feel more informed and more confident in your treatment decisions. Plus, some doctors may specialize or be trained in new or different treatment techniques that may benefit you.
4. Share the diagnosis with loved ones
Telling friends, parents, siblings, spouses, and children about your cancer diagnosis might be harder than hearing the news yourself. It’s up to you to decide which people to tell, how much information to share, and when. However, it’s a good idea to share the news with at least one or two close people so you don’t have to go through the journey alone.
Pick a calm and comfortable place to share the news. Make sure you have plenty of time to talk and answer questions. If you want, this can be a good time to tell them how they can best support you going forward. For example, some people really don’t want to talk about their cancer when they are with their friends and family. They simply don’t want to be reminded of it constantly. If that’s the case, tell your loved one so they know not to constantly ask you about treatment.
Getting More Information About Your Cancer
Remember, your cancer care team is the best place to go for more information. There are a lot of resources online, but not everything you read will pertain to your situation. No question is too basic or “silly.”
Paula Klein, MD, is a hematologist and oncologist at the Dubin Breast Center of the Mount Sinai Health System.
- Clinical features, diagnosis, and staging of newly diagnosed breast cancer. Waltham, MA: UpToDate, 2021. (Accessed on July 22, 2021)
- Metastatic cancer: when cancer spreads. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. (Accessed on July 22, 2021)
- Tests for metastases in people newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Susan G. Komen Foundation. (Accessed on July 22, 2021)