Finding out you have breast cancer is difficult enough, but to then be told you will need to undergo breast surgery — what a shock! Breast cancer and surgery may leave you feeling scared, devastated, confused, angry and in total shock.
There are many people at Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute to help you through this extremely personal journey and provide you with the support, encouragement, and information you will need along the way.
I am an associate at That Special Look boutique in the lobby at Gibbs. That Special Look is dedicated to serving women who had mastectomies. We offer mastectomy bra fittings and fashionable outfits dedicated to making women feel beautiful after their cancer treatment.
Here are a few facts I’ve learned while working at That Special Look:
Weighing Your Options
Once a week, the entire breast health and cancer staff at Gibbs meet as a team to discuss each new patient case in depth. That team includes surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, genetic specialists, hematologists, nurses, nurse navigators, directors and more.
Collectively, they create a unique, patient-specific treatment plan. Your doctor will present that plan to you in full. You can ask your doctor questions and discuss all of the options available.
We encourage you to take notes and bring someone with you to your appointments for additional support. We also recommend that you reach out to the breast cancer survivorship community, communicate frequently with your care staff and take advantage of the support offered through your nurse navigator to make the best-informed decision possible — one that is right for you.
Therapy And Support
Your journey may not only be physically and financially difficult but also very emotional. The thought of losing such an intimate part of your body can affect your self-image and esteem. We highly encourage you to reach out to a local psychologist.
You should also establish a solid support system with friends and family during this time. It is very important to communicate your needs and feelings to the ones you are closest to.
Be Good To Yourself
With the entire staff’s support and advice, you will ultimately be the one to decide what option is right for you — whether it be a full or partial mastectomy, and whether you will opt for reconstruction or choose to be fitted for a prosthetic breast.
Even though surgery may be the right thing to do for your health, it doesn’t mean that the choice is an easy one to make. Focus on the positive and surround yourself with your support system, and you will be able to come out on the other side of your surgery with just as much dignity and self-esteem as before this journey began.
Be good to yourself and love yourself. Take a deep breath and know that we will be here for you every step of the way!
Learn more about That Special Look (www.spartanburgregional.com/care-treatment/cancer/that-special-look-boutique/).
Ingrid Wilkey is a patient accounts representative for That Special Look, a boutique for cancer patients and survivors located in Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Center.