Common questions breast cancer patients and their families ask

1. Am I going to die?

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. However, death rates from breast cancer are on the decline. Only 1 in 36 women will die from breast cancer. That’s about 3%. There are almost 3 million breast cancer survivors in the US.

African American women are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer but 4 times more likely to die from breast cancer. In 2011, African American women had a 44% higher rate of death than white women did.

Be encouraged – with new treatment options and greater emotional support, deaths related to breast cancer are on the decline.

2. Will I lose my hair?

Every treatment protocol is different. Some women lose their hair, some don’t. It depends on your doctor’s treatment protocol. Even if you undergo chemotherapy, you may not necessary lose your hair. Most chemo medications can cause hair loss. However, hair usually grows back after treatment. Try to remain positive.

Many organizations provide wigs for cancer patients. We recommend Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Their wigs are made from real hair and they donate wigs at no charge to cancer patients.

3. If I should I lose my hair, will I only lose the hair on my head?

Typically cancer patients lose ALL body hair, including but not limited to head, arms, legs, pubic area, eyebrows and eyelashes.

4. Can I still have a baby after my treatment?

Some women have successfully conceived healthy babies after treatment. Remember to check with your healthcare provider to determine if it’s safe to conceive.

Other women chose to have their eggs frozen prior to treatment, so they can conceive in the future.

In some cases, women can’t conceive after treatment due to “Chemo Induced Menopause.” Remember, everyone’s different. For more information, seek advice from your healthcare team.

5. Should I get a second opinion about my treatment options?

Yes, you should always seek a second opinion and find health care providers that you feel comfortable with and can trust.

Typically, a large healthcare team will be working together on your case. This team usually consists of an oncologist, a plastic surgeon, a general surgeon, a primary care provider, an interventional radiologist and possibly others. They will be providing you with quite a bit of information, some of which you may not understand. If possible, ask a family member or friend to accompany you on your initial visits so they can write down notes on your behalf.

It’s very important that you feel comfortable with the hospital, facility, and the healthcare team because you will be spending a lot of time with them. Seek out board certified providers and ask for patient references. In addition, ask other doctors whom you know and trust whom they would select to manage and care for their family or friends.

6. Will chemotherapy make me sick?

Again, everyone reacts different to chemo. Personally, I was nauseated and constipated. I had to force myself to eat. If you experience any adverse conditions, let your doctor know right away. He can prescribe medications to lessen the effects of your treatment.

7. Will I lose my breast?

There are many different treatment alternatives available today for women with breast cancer. Be sure to ask your doctor for EVERY treatment option available to gain the necessary information to make an informed decision on what is best for you. Treatments vary based on the extent or stage of your breast cancer.

Even if your doctor does not recommend a mastectomy, you have the right to have one, should you feel it’s the best decision for you. Additionally, your insurance company must pay for it. My doctor recommended a lumpectomy with chemotherapy. I was Stage 2B. After researching all my options for treatment of Triple Negative Breast Cancer, I elected to undergo bilateral mastectomies with deep Inferior epigastric perforators (DIEF) flap reconstruction. Both procedures were performed at the same time. Again, be proactive with your healthcare and request information on every treatment option. Remember, everyone’s case is different.

8. Where can I find more information?

American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org
Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation at www.tnbcfoundation.org
A great source for wigs free of charge for cancer patients. All wigs made with real hair. www.pantene.com

The questions and answers listed above are designed for informational purpose only. They are based on my experiences. You should always speak with your healthcare provider when seeking medical advice. This site contains links to other sites. We are not responsible for the privacy practices of sites not owned by Flippin to a Cure. We encourage our visitors to take note when they leave our site and to read the privacy statement of any site that collects personally identifiable data.