It is a fact: we live in a society where everyone feels they need to have an opinion; but in many situations people don’t know what they are talking about. They repeat what they hear without questioning the information or act out of their emotions without considering the other person’s feelings.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had no idea what I would be dealing with. I knew I needed chemo because of my young age — my cancer was grade 3 and invasive. My doctors explained my options as far as treatments go. For surgery, I could have had a lumpectomy, which would have meant radiation was part of that plan, or I could have had a mastectomy, which would have excluded the radiation. I needed chemo no matter what. Now, when my surgeon explained the benefits of each surgery, he clearly stated that it didn’t make a difference with my current cancer which surgery I went with because there would always be a chance my existing cancer could come back. However, removing my breasts could have drastically lower the risk of getting a NEW cancer (breast cancer is not only one disease but multiple diseases).
I felt overwhelmed with the amount of information I received. I was also scared. You would think that with my family history of cancers I would be able to handle the situation better, right? NO WAY! Truth is, you never know how you’re going to handle it until you are faced with it. I also had some ideas on how bad it could get due to breast cancer deaths in my family, so that added more tension to my situation.
Anyways, I opted to have a lumpectomy with chemo and radiation because that was the best option for me at the time. It is a very personal choice what type of surgery to get, and I shouldn’t have to feel pressured by people who aren’t doctors — but who can’t help expressing those opinions — to explain why I made the decisions I did.
I’ve been told by more than one person that if it was them going through breast cancer, they would have had a mastectomy. Someone even asked why I didn’t remove my breasts. After all, they are only breasts. I hate it when cancer turns into gossip. To me, that was very insensitive and unhelpful.
I told this girl that she would never know how she would react if she was facing cancer until she actually does. I also told her I didn’t appreciate her judging how I choose to treat my cancer. The girl didn’t speak to me for months after this conversation because she felt “offended.”
Am I missing something?
This girl is not a close friend. What gives her the right to question my choices? And how is that comment supposed to help me? Does she expect me to call my surgeon the next day and tell him to get the anesthesia ready, that I am coming over for more surgery, because “someone” said I originally did the wrong thing? Is that supposed to make me feel better about my situation?
Come on people, have some empathy! You don’t have to always say something. But if you do, be kind.
I guess if I have to face cancer again, these people would probably have another discussion about how I didn’t listen.
I try not to be hard on myself. I have no regrets about having a lumpectomy, even if I may feel differently down the line. It was what I was able to handle. Now I have more knowledge than when I was sitting in my surgeon’s office discussing my treatment options. I did what I felt most comfortably doing at the time. I don’t know what my next choice would be if I ever have to face another cancer, but I trust myself to make the right decision for ME.
Same goes for chemo. Although I haven’t received many comments about that, I have heard people say there are “better options” than chemo. Well, if you think there is something better than chemo to treat your cancer and that’s the route you want to take, good for you! That’s your personal choice and I would never tell you you’re doing things the wrong way. I would only give you my personal opinion if I am invited to speak. I expect the same from others — especially those who aren’t my close friends and family. I do welcome advice from other breast cancer patients.
Each patient decides what the best choices are for them with the help of their doctors, who are actually experts in the subject. One thing you can do to help is to hold their hand in the process, without judging their decisions or questioning their behavior.
Also, think before you speak. Or just don’t speak.
Has anyone judged your choices of cancer treatment?