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Work Your Body, Work Your Mind

It took me a long time to admit that I wasn’t successfully coping with my depression and anxiety on my own. It took even longer to come up with a plan to fight back against my own...

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Our Managing Breast Cancer Experts

Dr. Marisa C. Weiss

Dr. Marisa C. Weiss

Oncologist, author and founder of Breastcancer.org

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Lillie Shockney

Lillie Shockney

Registered nurse, two-time breast cancer survivor and author

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Dr. Peter Pressman

Dr. Peter Pressman

Surgical oncologist and author

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Beating Breast Cancer

Getting a breast cancer diagnosis is both devastating and overwhelming. When you first hear those two words, you think your life is over. The world is still spinning, the doctor's mouth is moving, but you've slipped into a black hole, and have no idea what she's saying, where you are or if you're going to survive.

One in eight women will be affected by the disease in their lifetime. Breast cancer is common, but not unbeatable. Survival rates are climbing. According to a 2008 study in the journal Lancet Oncology, North America, Sweden, Japan, Finland and Australia all boast an 80% or higher chance of recovery. Talk about great odds!

The first 30 days after diagnosis are some of the most crucial. You will be immersing yourself in a new language, and trying to learn everything about the disease and your treatment options as possible; all this while still in a fog of aftershock and disbelief. But by the time that first month has passed and you have a medical team and treatment plan in place, you will feel 100 times better. "Beating cancer is doable," says Lillie Shockney, RN, MAS, breast cancer nurse and Director of Education and Outreach at the Johns Hopkins Breast Cancer Center.

She ought to know. Shockney is a two-time breast cancer survivor. First diagnosed at the age of 38, she underwent treatment and a mastectomy, only to discover cancer in her other breast four years later. She had that breast removed as well. Because of other medical issues, she was not a candidate for breast reconstruction. She learned to cope through laughter, and found she was able to enjoy life just as fully without her bosom buddies.

"You are going to say to yourself that I will never laugh again, and I will tell you that I want you to learn to laugh again and I want you to have hearty laughs, and to include that as part of your treatment," says Shockney. "We know that when you have genuine belly laugh, it produces t-cells in your blood stream, which are the cells that destroy cancer."

So here it is...our best advice on getting through the times when you want to scream and cry, so that you can find the laughter, too. All emotions are accepted on this journey. Let's get going.

Posted: 9/12/08

As overwhelming as a cancer diagnosis is, you will come up to speed fast. Then, you'll be able to make some useful decisions.

  • By cobber
  • on 9/29/08 10:00 AM EST