Finding Ways to Cope During Your Journey
- Actress and Victoria’s Secret model Nicole Weider revealed she has stage 2 breast cancer after discovering a lump on her breast. She’s become overwhelmed with emotions as she copes with her new reality and awaits impending treatment.
- Next-generation sequencing (NGS), a type of molecular testing, helps you and your doctor decide on the best treatment option for your newly diagnosed breast cancer, particularly in more advanced cases. The tests also help doctors better understand if certain hormone receptors and proteins are fueling your cancer or not.
- SurvivorNet experts also recommend performing a monthly breast self-exam to look for anything unusual because it can help catch breast cancer.
- Talk to your doctor if you notice one or more of the following symptoms: a new lump in the breast, unusual sagging, new swelling in the breast, changes to the nipple (such as puckering), flaking or redness in the breast, or nipple, discharge (including blood) coming from the nipple and pain in the breast.
- Coping with a breast cancer diagnosis can be one of the most daunting hurdles you’ve faced in your life. Experts tell SurvivorNet that leaning into your support group, keeping a journal, and a mental health professional are all effective ways to help you cope.
“Victoria’s Secret” model Nicole Weider received the “shock of her life” when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The diagnosis came just days before Thanksgiving and her birthday, making the daunting news more difficult to process.
Coping with a breast cancer diagnosis can be scary and filled with uncertainty. Weider admits this new reality is worrisome. However, she’s since asked for prayers to help her cope with a wide range of emotions as she prepares for impending treatment.Read More
“I thought it would be nothing, maybe just a cyst or a piece of fatty tissue under my armpit. The doctor felt it and looked at it and told me it was serious enough to get a CT scan and have the images determined by a radiologist,” Weider said in an Instagram post.
Admittedly worried, she said when her doctor returned with test results from her scans, she was greeted with less than favorable news.
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“Through looking at all of the imaging in my body, the radiologist confirmed that I had breast cancer first in my left, and then the lump had spread and mutated to another lump which I felt in my armpit area,” Weider said.
Her cancer was in stage 2, meaning the tumor was likely bigger than 2cm, and there were some lymph nodes impacted.
She said she must wait until the Thanksgiving holiday to get an update from her oncologist regarding the next steps.
“This is all very new for me, and I’m worried about the process this will take me through,” she added.
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Molecular Breast Cancer Testing
Although many breast cancer patients undergo a slew of tests leading up to their diagnosis, molecular testing is another test many breast cancer experts hold in high regard. This type of test evaluates the tumor, looking for certain qualities and characteristics of the cancer, what fuels and, potentially, a way to fight it. The test is conducted with a special staining process using a breast cancer biopsy sample.
Once diagnosed, your doctor will likely test your cancer for these important hormone receptors and proteins: Estrogen Receptor (ER), Progesterone Receptor (PR), and Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 (HER2).
Your breast cancer cells may have one, both, or none of these markers.
Breast tumor marker tests measure the type of breast cancer cells in your body. With this added information, your doctor can decide on the best course of treatment and monitor progression or recurrence.
Coping with an Emotional Breast Cancer Diagnosis
When you are diagnosed with cancer, feelings of fear and anxiety are completely normal. SurvivorNet experts recommend four tips for women diagnosed with breast cancer to better cope with their emotions during this difficult stage of the journey.
- Let your family and close friends know and let them help. After a diagnosis, you’re often faced with a ton of emotions and need help. It would be best if you encouraged people close to you to jump in with whatever practical help they can offer.
- Keep a journal. Many cancer warriors have shared with SurvivorNet that keeping a journal is an effective tool for acknowledging your feelings and emotions.
- Join a cancer support group. There is a good chance someone else is facing what you are facing or has been through this emotional leg of the journey before. Support groups in nearly every community offer opportunities to connect with others going through a similar journey. You’ll learn constructive insight from others who can tell you about what to expect and how to stay strong on tough days.
- Seek professional help from a therapist. Ask your doctor to refer you to a therapist so you can discuss your fears and concerns in a safe space. Vocalizing your thoughts and feelings rather than bottling them inside can be therapeutic.
WATCH: Maintaining a Positive Headspace
Breast Cancer Symptoms & Self-Exams
Women are encouraged to do regular self-exams to become familiar with how their breasts feel normally, so when something unusual like a lump does form, it can be easily detected. A self-exam includes pressing your fingertips along your breast in a circular motion.
For some women, that means going to their doctor and walking through what a self-breast exam looks like, so they know what normal breast tissue feels like so if they do feel something abnormal, whether it’s a lump or discharge from the nipple, they know what to ask and what to look for.
Below are common symptoms to look out for:
- New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit)
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Swelling on all or part of the breast
- Skin dimpling or peeling
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple turning inward
- Redness or scaliness of breast or nipple skin
- Nipple discharge (not associated with breastfeeding)
What To Ask Your Doctor
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may have questions about how to keep your strength through treatment. Here are a few questions to help you begin the conversation with your doctor:
- What treatment will I be receiving?
- What side effects are associated with this treatment?
- Are there steps I can take in my daily life to help minimize these side effects?
- What physical activity routine do you recommend for me during treatment?
- Do you have recommendations for someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy exercise?
- Can you recommend a dietician who can help me with healthy eating tips and maintaining a healthy weight?
I’ve been having trouble sleeping, do you have any treatment recommendations?