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Sep 24, 2021 04:11AM
I wish I had got pharmaceutical anti-anxiety help earlier. My cancer center actually has a mental health unit and I could have gone there earlier, but I think any of my oncologists or even my gyn or family doctor would have been willing to prescribe me something temporary if I had been more honest with them (and myself) about the extent to which anxiety was impacting me. For me, ativan has been great, but there are a ton of options and a good doc will help you find the good ones for you (if this applies to you, if not, maybe it will to someone else reading).
I wish I had taken preemptive advil for my radiation set-up session. The doc recommended it but I forgot. Oops!
I wish I had waited to start hormonal treatment until after I was done with radiation. I was eager to start doing everything I possibly could ASAP. It turned out though that I had some serious side effects from my first hormonal treatment that I erroneously blamed on radiation. It probably would actually have saved me time in the long run to find the right anti-hormonal for me if I had been a bit more patient up front.
Related, I wish I had known that even though it's not considered "active treatment", the hormonal therapy can be even more difficult than active treatment. It took me a while to find the drug that worked for my quality of life, and it was very difficult in the meantime.
I wish I had understood how long it would take to get the full picture of my cancer. I felt like I kept getting surprised about all the elements of the surgeon's predictions about my cancer that actually needed some time/tests to be validated. (It turned out that for me, all her predictions were correct, but it took the full pathology and testing to know that).
Some things I'm glad I did as I did:
I'm glad I took time off of work from radiation. At the time, my job was very stressful and a huge source of anxiety all on its own. Physically I probably could have pushed through and worked, but emotionally, mentally, and logistically, it was really helpful to just give myself that break. If this applies to you and you are in the position to take time off (which I know I was lucky to do), I would say it's ok to give yourself that gift if you feel it would help. I had to take unpaid time off work for it, but my health insurance continued and I had enough savings and job security to feel comfortable doing so, even though I am single.
I'm glad I had friends come with me (either in person or virtually) for doctor's appointments, and that I had a good friend come with me for the surgery and the day or two after. I don't remember if you are partnered or not, but just because you/someone is not partnered does not mean one has to or should go it alone.
Related, I'm glad I was very open with my friends, social circle, and work, about what I was going through. I found kindness and support in places I did not expect, and I felt very loved.
I'm very glad I found these boards, participated in ongoing community threads, especially the radiation and starting hormonal therapy threads for my month, and used them as a research help. It has been priceless.
Of course everyone is different and the most important thing is to listen to your own heart. Good luck! For me, I ultimately found the physical aspects of cancer less trying than the mental aspects.
Dx at 39. 1.8cm. Oncotype 9.
9/19/2018, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH)
10/17/2018 Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal: Sentinel
11/1/2018 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
12/2/2018 Whole-breast: Breast
12/18/2019 Fareston (toremifene)