Topic: Therapist choice: One who has, or hasn't had breast cancer?

Forum: Mental Health: Because Cancer Doesn't Just Affect Your Breasts — Meet and support others who are affected by these issues around anxiety, depression & other emotional effects.

Posted on: Feb 8, 2018 09:57AM

Posted on: Feb 8, 2018 09:57AM

ksusan wrote:

I'd be interested to hear about people's preferences. If you were choosing a new therapist in order to get help for breast cancer issues, and assuming they all had the same expertise as therapists informed about BC, would you prefer one who you know has had BC? One who may or may not have, but has had a family member with BC? Someone who hasn't? Would you want to know when you were choosing your therapist? How about a therapist who doesn't disclose one way or the other, but is flat, or one-sided, or wears an LE sleeve?

Mutant uprising quashed. Dx 1/2015, IDC, Right, Stage IIA, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 1/2015, DCIS, Left, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Lymph node removal; Mastectomy; Mastectomy (Left); Mastectomy (Right) Radiation Therapy Whole breast Chemotherapy Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Feb 8, 2018 10:14AM larkspur wrote:

I'd certainly prefer a woman, and one who's over 40: old enough to have had a few mammograms herself and to have some familiarity with serious illnesses: her own, or those of family members and friends. The empathy factor matters a lot!

Dx 1/5/2015, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 1, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2/10/2015, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/11/2015 Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right); Lymph node removal; Lymph node removal (Right): Sentinel Radiation Therapy 4/13/2015 Whole breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 6/11/2015 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy
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Feb 8, 2018 10:29AM Lisey wrote:

I would NOT want a women who had breast cancer... To many types, too many stages, not one person has the same disease as another. Even though therapists try to stay impartial, they are people too, and could be triggered or emotional about your choices and concerns. They may have chosen something opposite what you are doing and it could conflict with their neutral stance. For example, if I was seeing a therapist, they'd hear all about my advocacy for going flat and all the horrors I feel about the plastic surgery expected on women. If she got recon, I know I'd trigger her with my candid views about the industrial medical profit complex. I neither want that kind of judgement or to be the cause of triggering someone when I'm supposed to be not censoring myself and speaking my peace.

See, I try to refrain from being completely candid in mixed company, but in therapy - that is where you should be free to say anything.. and if they made choices you didn't - you'd either censor yourself or trigger them.

Oncotype =20, ER 95%, PR 5%, ki67= 30%, Mammoprint = Low, Blueprint = Luminal A!!!! TEs= Iron Bra of Death - not worth all the complications for foobs that I'll never feel. Flat and fealess now. Dx 5/11/2016, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 6/1/2016 Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 6/14/2016 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 7/7/2016 Mastectomy: Left, Right Hormonal Therapy 7/14/2016 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Feb 8, 2018 01:56PM hopeful82014 wrote:

Lisey, there are others on this board, mental health professionals, who could probably speak directly to that issue. However, I don't think you're giving licensed, credentialed therapists enough credit. Most would probably have (should have) developed an approach to avoiding the types of issues you're positing, probably in concert with a mentor or other experienced colleague. I'd actually be surprised if it's not addressed in coursework and internships.

Dx IDC, HER2-
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Feb 8, 2018 02:58PM - edited Feb 8, 2018 04:15PM by ShetlandPony

As a person living with mbc, I would feel I had to hold back and protect the therapist who had a history of bc, knowing I represent the worst nightmare of many early-stagers. I know a good therapist would have worked through and set aside her own stuff, but I would still feel inhibited. But I think an early-stager (I used to be one) would like to know that she had found a therapist with a knowledge base and an understanding of how the rest of the world may respond to us (for example, stupid comments, friends who flee), and how it is never really over, especially with treatment side effects and recurrence fears. So if you are really in a good place and can handle it, I'd say try mentioning it.

2011 Stage I ITCs sn, premenopausal, Oncotype 16. 2014 Stage IV mets breast,liver. TaxolNEAD. Ibrance+letrozole 2yrs. Fas+afinitor nope. XelodaNEAD 2yrs. Eribulin,Doxil nope. SUMMIT FaslodexHerceptinNeratinib for Her2mut NEAD 1 1/2yrs. GI/perit mets Dx 2011, ILC, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2014, ILC, 2cm, Stage IV, metastasized to liver/other, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Breast Surgery Lumpectomy
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Feb 9, 2018 01:06AM IntegraGirl wrote:

I just saw a therapist who had gone through BC. Bloody useless. I think the key is just finding a good therapist

Dx 1/20/2017, IBC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIIC, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 2/28/2017 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Ellence (epirubicin), Fluorouracil (5-fluorouracil, 5-FU, Adrucil), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 8/31/2017 Mastectomy: Left, Right Chemotherapy 10/2/2017 Xeloda (capecitabine) Radiation Therapy 11/6/2017 Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall
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Feb 9, 2018 01:44AM mustlovepoodles wrote:

I agree. I have bipolar disorder. Should I ONLY seek out those therapists who also have bipolar disorder? Im also a nurse. Does this mean that i should ONLY take care of bipolar patients who have breast cancer? Of course not. How silly. A good therapist, like any good health practitioner, does not have to have personal experience with a condition to be able to help people.

Oncotype 23. Positive for PALB2 & Chek2 gene mutations. My breasts are trying to kill me! Dx 7/20/2015, DCIS/IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery 8/20/2015 Lumpectomy Surgery 9/3/2015 Lumpectomy: Right Chemotherapy 10/19/2015 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 2/4/2016 Prophylactic mastectomy: Left, Right Surgery 10/19/2016 Hormonal Therapy Femara (letrozole) Surgery
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Feb 9, 2018 01:50AM - edited Feb 9, 2018 01:52AM by ShetlandPony

I agree that a good therapist does not need to have personal experience with bc to help a bc patient. The therapist I used to see, who helped me figure out how to live well with mbc, did not have a history of bc. But she had experience working in a hospital and leading a cancer support group, and she had a chronic medical issue herself. I think she would have been a fantastic therapist even without these experiences, but I do feel her background made it so I did not have to explain too much before getting to the main issues.

2011 Stage I ITCs sn, premenopausal, Oncotype 16. 2014 Stage IV mets breast,liver. TaxolNEAD. Ibrance+letrozole 2yrs. Fas+afinitor nope. XelodaNEAD 2yrs. Eribulin,Doxil nope. SUMMIT FaslodexHerceptinNeratinib for Her2mut NEAD 1 1/2yrs. GI/perit mets Dx 2011, ILC, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2014, ILC, 2cm, Stage IV, metastasized to liver/other, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Breast Surgery Lumpectomy
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Feb 9, 2018 07:48AM catsme wrote:

Mine is female, hasn't had BC, but is part of an organization called Cancer Family Care. They provide services to individuals and families who have or had cancer, regardless of type, stage or part of body affected.

She has shown support, empathy and guidance throughout, and I feel she does understand what I'm experiencing.

Dx 12/7/2016, ILC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 1/4/2017 Lymph node removal; Mastectomy; Mastectomy (Left); Prophylactic mastectomy; Prophylactic mastectomy (Right) Hormonal Therapy 1/20/2017 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Feb 9, 2018 03:19PM gb2115 wrote:

I don't think it matters really, but I see one who has no history of cancer. She is still really good.

But yes, if you are a good therapist, it shouldn't matter whether or not you have experienced something, and I agree with some above who suggest concern that someone who has had BC might not be impartial. But then again, if they're any good at what they're doing, it shouldn't matter.


First Dx IDC in 10/16 at age 38, stage 2A, 1.2 cm ER/PR+ Her2-, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes. Lumpectomy + radiation + tamoxifen. Second Dx IDC recurrence in original location 5/21. 1.3 cm ER/PR+, Her2 -. Grade 2. 2/2 nodes. UMX + AC/T + Zoladex/Exemestane + Zometa.
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Feb 9, 2018 03:29PM Beatmon wrote:

Whichever you choose, if it doesn’t mesh...change therapist

Dx 7/27/2012, IDC, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Surgery 8/9/2012 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Surgery 12/1/2013 Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 7/1/2014 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Dx 8/9/2014, IDC, Both breasts, Stage IV, metastasized to lungs, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Targeted Therapy 8/27/2014 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 8/27/2014 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Chemotherapy 8/27/2014 Taxotere (docetaxel)

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