Welcome to My Left Breast.
In 2010 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I began writing about the experience shortly after, via caringbridge.org, so that I could keep family and friends updated, and soon afterwards decided to share it more broadly through this blog, with the hope that others going through a similar experience could learn from my process.
In addition to being a breast cancer survivor, or as many of us in the cancer community prefer to refer to ourselves, as NED (No Evidence of Disease), I also live a full life with a family, wonderful and supportive friends, and a very humorous little Corgi puppy named Cooper.
The experiences I went through during my year and a half of breast cancer treatments impacted my life profoundly, both physically and mentally, and I share those learnings here.
One of the most critical lessons I learned during the experience was to become my own healthcare advocate. Our health care system is complex, over-taxed and not particularly conducive to personalized care. The most important person to manage the process of any illness is you, the patient. Our healthcare system is imperfect and none of your doctors are going to remember all the details of your case. I quickly realized that in order to get the best care, I needed to be the project manager of my breast cancer throughout the year and a half of treatments.
It’s now been ten years since I was initially diagnosed, with a lot of procedures that have occurred in that ten year timeframe, and I still see my oncologist and breast surgeon annually. Given their workload and the length of time that has passed, they can’t possibly remember all of the details of my medical records, so I’ve become my own advocate.
If you take away one thing from reading My Left Breast, please embrace the notion of becoming your own healthcare advocate. Take control of your medical process, ask questions, demand that your medical team explain what they are recommending and why, and keep a record of what has occurred, so that you can bring your medical team up to speed quickly on your history over the years.
I hope you find these pages helpful and I wish you health, love and the gift of living in the moment.