Breast Cancer Diagnosis: Now What?

Breast Cancer Diagnosis: Now What?

About 1 in 8 American women, or about 12 percent, will develop breast cancer.  What happens when you or your loved one is part of that 12 percent? Breast cancer treatment is a journey. You’ll need help and resources along the way.

Share the News About Your Diagnosis
Finding out you have cancer can put you and your family on an emotional rollercoaster. Although “cancer” is easy to pronounce, if you’ve just been diagnosed, it can be the hardest word to say.

However, it’s healthy to talk with friends and family about it.  Sharing the news with others can help you cope and relieve feelings of isolation and frustration. When you are ready, tell your loved ones about the diagnosis.

Try this advice when it’s time to break the news.

  • Use words that are comfortable for you. There’s no one right way to discuss your disease.
  • Get help. Make a list of people you want to tell personally. Then ask a family member or trusted friend to talk with others.
  • Plan ahead. Most people will have questions about your prognosis or next steps. Think about how much you want to share — it’s up to you. There may be topics you aren’t ready to talk about, such as treatment choices. Think about how to change the subject if something you don’t want to talk about comes up.
  • With children, be gentle but honest. They’ll sense something is wrong and should hear about your cancer from you. Be calm and assure them they’ll be cared for.

Take Good Care of Yourself
Here are some steps you can take to help you cope better.

  • Get enough rest, eat a healthy diet and stay physically active.
  • Not all parts of your life need to be put on hold. Try to keep up hobbies and other things you enjoy.
  • Find quiet time for reflection and relaxation.
  • Get help from your doctor if you feel anxious, hopeless or depressed for more than 2 weeks.

Prep for Treatment
Making decisions about starting your treatment may seem overwhelming. Keep in mind cancer treatments offer numerous alternatives, so decisions may not be straightforward.

Learn as much as you can about your cancer and treatment options. Being actively involved in the decision-making process can help you better understand your treatment. You’ll feel more in control and less worried about the road ahead.

How can we help?
On top of understanding your diagnosis, knowing what to do next can seem like too much to think about.

The first thing you can do as a Blue Cross and Blue Shield member is to call the customer service number on your member ID card. One phone call can help determine what resources and help are available. Just tell the Customer Advocate that you’ve learned you have breast cancer and would like to talk to a care manager.

We have a team of registered nurses and social workers to help manage your needs through your treatment and recovery journey, making sure you get the best possible care. These care managers can be a lifeline to support services, such as:

  • Explaining your treatment options
  • Referrals to Blue Distinction doctors if you need a second opinion
  • Help with planning for your treatment and recovery
  • Resources to assist you and your family with child care, transportation, or finding affordable medicine
  • Help with your feelings and emotions
  • Finding resources for a wig
  • Getting a dietitian to help you with your new nutrition needs

Case managers also work with our teams of doctors and pharmacists to review your treatments and medicines. These reviews can help make sure there won’t be any harmful interactions with other drugs you’re taking. And they can find food restrictions that may need to be followed to prevent interference with a medicine.

Case managers also work behind the scenes to coordinate care among your doctors.

And the role of a case manager isn’t just about coordinating medical care. A case manager will help you understand what’s ahead, provide answers to your medical questions, and guide you through the journey ahead with compassion.

Have you faced breast cancer?  Share your story in the Comments.

Originally published October 5, 2015; Revised 2019