A diagnosis of breast cancer comes as a shock. There may have been no signs or symptoms, or you may have found a lump that seemed to be, or you were hoping was, nothing of concern.
Unfortunately a diagnosis of breast cancer is very common. It is the most common cancer in Australian women. The good news is that early detection and improved treatments have resulted in very high survival rates.
What should I do now?
You will probably be bombarded with information and advice in the early weeks following your diagnosis. Remember that you don't need to rush into any decisions, or into having surgery immediately. You need to do what feels right for you.
'Every person and every story is so different -- including yours. Listen to advice, but remember you are an individual. Your body will react differently from the next person's. Don't scare yourself with unnecessary comparisons.' --Sam
Here are some practical suggestions:
- stop, slow down and think about what you need to get you through this time; this website and BCNA's My Journey Kit can help you
- take the time to absorb the information you are given, don't rush your decisions
- take one step at a time, breaking things down into small pieces can make them more manageable
- get the information you need to manage your health in the best way for you
- find a medical team that will work for and with you
- think about ways you can actively participate in your health care; being well-prepared and asking questions can help
- speak up if you have concerns, worries or questions
- ask questions until you understand the answers and the options
- consider taking someone close to you to medical appointments so they can take notes for you
- be gentle on yourself, and remind yourself that most Australian women survive breast cancer these days
- let others help you and your family, don't be afraid to ask for help
- focus on recovery.
While everyone is different, sometimes it helps to hear other women's stories. In the video below, Australian women share their experiences following a diagnosis of breast cancer. They open up about the shock, the fear, the support and what helped them through.
Using this website
This website is designed to help you find the information and support you need in the period immediately following your diagnosis. Information is organised under different main headings that you can access through the navigation bar at the top of the page e.g. New diagnosis, Sharing and support, etc. Each of those sections also has sub-topics, with links at the left side of the page.
If you get stuck, or can't find the information you need, type the topic you're looking for into the search bar. You can find the search bar at the top right of every page (where it says 'start your search here').
When you are ready, take a look at the other pages in this section of the website:
- Getting through the first few weeks
- Order a My Journey Kit
- Your medical team
- Telling your children
- Helping a friend or colleague with breast cancer
- If you haven't already received one, you can order a free My Journey Kit which will be sent to you by mail. It is specifically designed for women who have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer and provides information in a way that is easy to understand.
- Join our online network if you think that talking to others online and sharing experiences will help.
- The section on breast cancer and treatment for young women covers key issues for pre-menopausal women.
- The section on male breast cancer provides information and resources specific to men following a diagnosis.
- Download the Messages of Hope and Inspiration booklet (see below) which contains messages from women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Visit the Cancer Australia website, which has a comprehensive section of information on breast cancer.