CATCH YOUR BREATH: Expect to be both shocked and devastated. Catch your breath. Go outside in the fresh air and breathe deeply. I know that this feels like your worst nightmare. It feels like life is over. IT IS NOT. True, you do not know how much time you have, but you DO know that you have more than today ... more than this week ... more than this month. Take one step at a time.
THIS WAS NOT YOUR FAULT: It did not happen because of something you did or did not do. It just happened ... just like it does to 10s of 1,000s of Americans every year.
MEDICAL TEAM: Give careful thought to your medical team. You need people you can trust, who listen to you and are willing to work with you AND who specialize specifically in breast cancer AND who, preferably, are located at a teaching university hospital. While you must be able to be comfortable with, and like, your oncologist, you must also realize that you now have a very serious condition. You need the best care possible and if you are within commuting distance of a university hospital, go there. If not, review the most recent listing of the best cancer hospitals in the USA (check out NIH recommendations at: http://www.cancer.gov/researchandfunding/extramural/cancercenters
). Find the one closest to you and be seen there if possible. If that isn't possible, check with your local American Cancer Society for their recommendation, but also consider traveling to one of the NIH-recommended facilities for a second opinion every time you have a change in your cancer.
FIND FRIENDS WHO UNDERSTAND: Finding other people with MBC to talk to is informative, comforting and offers a sense of security. Check out the "support" section at www.metavivor.org. There is also a list of local MBC support programs under "support" at www.mbcn.org. You can also join online discussion boards and chat lines. On Facebook search on "meta" and select "The New Closed Metastatic (Advanced) Breast Cancer Support Group". Also try bcmets.org orhttp://www.inspire.com/groups/advanced-breast-cancer/
. Cancercare.org also has a telephone support program. Find what works for you.
MOVE FORWARD: We cannot turn back the clock ... so we must adjust and move forward. Your life will be different, but you can still find enjoyment and happiness. Set up your medical team. Decide on treatment. Start treatment. Look for support. Soon you will get into a new routine ... be making new friends ... and things will begin to fall into place. It DOES get better. Believe that.