PINK UP: I was just diagnosed with breast cancer, what's next

PINK UP: I was just diagnosed with breast cancer, what's next

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - On the 12th of every month, KFVS12 pinks up because the statistics remain staggering.

About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2017, alone, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S.

What makes it even more challenging: each patient is different.

"Some patients are going to need very little surveillance and some patients will need more," Dr. Carlos Robles explained, an oncologist at Saint Francis Medical Center. "Some patients are at higher risk of relapsing early and some patients have higher risk of relapsing later."

So the big question Heartland News set out to answer: if you've just learned you have breast cancer, what's next?

Realize this: it's not a death sentence.

"I think breast cancer is starting to be now not only a curable disorder but in many times a chronic disease that is manageable just like you do diabetes or hypertension," Robles said.

Breast cancer is no longer a death sentence.

About 40,610 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2017 from breast cancer. However, death rates have been decreasing since 1989.

Robles says in most cases a women can expect to be cured these days.

Engage your doctors.

You've heard the phrase: "It takes a village to raise a child."

Likewise, in terms of breast cancer, it takes a team to beat it.

"This is a team effort this is not something you just do with your surgeon or with your oncology you need a team of people,"Robles said. "And this is your surgeon, this is your oncologist, this is your radiation doctor, your nutritionist, of course the nurse."

When you engage all of your doctors, you have a better chance of finding the best option for your case.

And of course, don't be afraid to ask questions. The more you know, the better.

Ask for help.

It's a good idea to bring a friend or family member along to your appointments

This can be an emotional time, and sometimes you may need a shoulder to lean on.

In fact, it may even help you chance of surviving.

"We know that social support and those patients that get engaged and they know about their treatment they do better," Robles said.

During this time, you may experience information overload. Having another person at your appointment can help ask questions you may not think about.

Think long-term.

Beating the ugly c is more possible now than it ever was before.

That means you and your team of doctors need to consider what life will look like 5 years, 10 years, 20 years down the road and so on.

"We are also now embracing the concept of survivorship," Robles said. "We want these patients alive and well and to live many years."

Ask you doctor about ways to improve your quality of life through these treatments. That might mean considering taking preventative steps to avoid conditions like osteoporosis.

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