Meet with everyone on your health care team.
Make sure you understand what is going on and what each person on your team will be doing. This team can include, but is not necessarily limited to your oncologist, radiation oncologist, surgeon, plastic surgeon, fertility specialist, genetic counselor and others.
If you are considering having children at any point in the future (think ahead ladies!), speak to your oncologist and a fertility specialist BEFORE starting treatment.
Treatment can sometimes limit or destroy your fertility options. Understand all possible results or outcomes of your treatment, as well as all of your fertility options, to make sure you make the decision that is right for you.
If you are taking any form of birth control or have an IUD, talk to your doctor about how treatment will affect your current birth control regimen.
Treatment can disrupt or interrupt your birth control, so you may need another form of birth control during, as well as after treatment.
Request that your doctor give you the pros and cons before undergoing a lumpectomy or mastectomy.
These are big decisions and should not be taken lightly. Many women have said they didn't really understand the effects of these procedures on their minds and bodies. Make sure your doctor or doctors fully explain the process, outcome and any possible issues before making a decision.
Genetics can play a role in breast cancer. You should talk to a genetic counselor and find out if genetic testing is right for you.
Genetic counselors can help explain to you if genetic testing would be helpful, how it can help determine your treatment and what the genetic findings may have for your family, including men and any future children. Remember, knowledge is power!
Bulk up your "team."
Many women have benefited from seeing a navigator, a nutritionist, a pastoral care specialist, a survivorship coordinator, support agencies, physical therapists, lymphedema therapists and many more. Don’t forget any extra supporters, like family and close friends.
Make sure you know what resources are available to you. There are numerous local and national organizations out there to help, including the many listed on this website under “Find Support”
We know there are implications beyond your medical treatment. If you need help figuring out how this diagnosis will affect your emotions, relationships, job and more, know that we have both advice and resources on this website that can help you with all of that and more.
Join a support group.
There are millions of breast cancer survivors at many different stages in this process. Join a support group and meet people who know what you are going through. They are a great resource and can offer incredible support. We have a list of such groups on the website under “Resources,” plus you can help connect with people in your area on our social media platforms.
Want to take this checklist with you? For a printable version, click here.
Useful Websites: Diagnosed with Breast Cancer
Living Beyond Breast Cancer/Recently Diagnosed:
WebMD/What To Do After A Breast Cancer Diagnosis: