As I reflect on nine years of work for and on the Let Life Happen website anniversary, I can’t help but think about the evolution that has occurred during that time. Starting as a platform for sharing a weekly post of my breast cancer journey after a second diagnosis to where we are today is something that I could never have conceived in my wildest imagination. And after all of these years, I would have thought that I had shared just about everything that there was to share. But, such thinking was once again rocked to its core just a few short weeks ago when my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and all of the new things that I have learned that once again reminds me that so much changes on a daily basis and breast cancer patients and survivors need to have a constant source of updated information.
I have committed to continuing to share with the cancer community as much information as I can so that those that wish to do so can get the answers about the treatments, etc. available in order to treat their own cancers and most importantly, to feel content in their choices and decision-making when it is done along with their medical teams. Barbara Jacoby
Most importantly, I wanted my sister to feel empowered in all of her discussions about her particular cancer and course of treatment. Therefore, I wanted her to be armed with a list of questions to ask and have answered by her primary care physician, her surgeon and her oncologists. This was so unlike my own days of floundering through one appointment after another feeling so lost and wondering and questioning myself in my efforts at making uninformed decisions. To this day, I am so grateful for the medical team that I was ultimately able to rely upon, as I know now how engaged and knowledgeable they were almost a decade ago when there was virtually no social media presence available from which to gather information.
Of course, my desire was to point out to her all of the things that stood out to me after my first surgery, which was a lumpectomy. I quickly explained to her to be sure to be to be briefed on handling her drain tube ahead of time, unlike my first introduction to that apparatus as I was waking up from the anesthesia. However, I soon learned that when she inquired about the drain tube, she was informed that she wouldn’t have one. Wow! What a surprise that was to me and while I was so grateful that that was to be her situation, I felt so out of touch with what was going on with some of the current technology that is available.
I further counseled her with regard to how she would want to dress for her surgery. I suggested that she not wear any clothing that she would have to put on over her head because of how her range of motion would be affected and the resulting pain until she had started healing. Here again, after surgery this week, she called me the same day and the next day, etc. and her range of motion has not been affected in any way. This certainly made me very happy as obviously the surgeon employed updated technology to perform the lumpectomy which was unlike that which was available when I had my lumpectomy that produced a major cut through everything between the skin and the cancer to be removed. I was particularly impressed because her cancer was located so much deeper into the breast than mine.
I must add that there is so much more that I have learned about what is happening in the world of breast cancer since my sister’s diagnosis. It coincided with my yearly visit to my own oncologist. Of course, since my sister was now diagnosed, I was very interested in knowing whether there was a likelihood that this was occurring as the result of a BRCA gene mutation that may have existed on my father’s side of the family based on their cancer history when we did not have the same on my mother’s side. And this was only the beginning of the information that I garnered that day that I could ultimately share with my sister who has a daughter.
Bottom line, I decided that there were still plenty of things to write about and share on the website for another year. Therefore, I have committed to continuing to share with the cancer community as much information as I can so that those that wish to do so can get the answers about the treatments, etc. available in order to treat their own cancers and most importantly, to feel content in their choices and decision-making when it is done along with their medical teams. There is nothing that empowers a patient more than to have the confidence that you are doing the very best for your self and for your own life when you feel like you are in control.