Sharon Daniels; diagnosed in 2000 at age 49; hairstylist, wig store owner; Massachusetts
"Sleep didn't come easy for me after my diagnosis. Instead of sleeping pills, my husband and I started having a glass of wine before bedtime to help me relax. Every night while we drank wine, we talked, we read to each other, and we played games. This became a special time together when we shared our feelings, fears, and hopes for the future."
Julie Crandall; diagnosed in 1998 at age 31; stay-at-home mom; North Carolina
"We had gotten two kittens a few weeks before I learned I had cancer. They were confined to the guest bedroom. Whenever I was feeling down, I would go in and lie on the bed with them. They would climb all over me, cheering me into a better mood. My husband referred to my going in there as 'opening a can of kittens.'"
Jeanne Sturdevant; diagnosed in 1990 at age 45; artist; Texas
"Being a mother, wife, and nurse, I'd always been in the position of caring for everyone but myself. So I made an appointment with the social worker who was affiliated with the breast center I went to. Now, I must confess, I'm not one to share my feelings with a perfect stranger, but somehow I felt this was the healthiest thing to do. Though it was awkward and uncomfortable at first, I visited this social worker regularly. This helped me keep things in perspective. As time passed, I looked forward to our visits as a place where I could speak of what I feared or sing of my accomplishments."
Cindy Fiedler; diagnosed in 1998 at age 40; registered nurse, mom; Massachusetts
"When I awoke in the hospital after my mastectomy, the operating room nurse sat by my bed. A breast cancer survivor herself, she had been sent by my surgeon. Her advice was, 'When you need something from someone, ask.' My generation of women was taught to 'suffer silently,' not to complain or impose. An hour or so later, my husband called from his office a few blocks away to see how I was doing. I told him that I needed him, and he came immediately. Before the nurse's advice, I would have told my husband that I was okay and then been miserable. Her advice has improved everything in my life!"
Jane Vaughan; diagnosed in 1991 at age 53; writer; Texas
"Write all your questions down before your doctor's appointment. Make sure your doctor listens to you and doesn't talk down to you. If necessary, change doctors until you get the right one."
Ellen Beth Simon; diagnosed in 1998 at age 41; lawyer; New Jersey
"If you think that something isn't right or hasn't been answered or resolved to your satisfaction, hang in there until you are satisfied -- at every step of the way! When I had doubts about the way a technician was setting me up for radiation, I asked that he not work with me in the future. My request was respected. That was important."
Anne Jacobs; diagnosed in 1999 at age 62; managing partner, real estate; Massachusetts
"The mammography technician who helped prep me for biopsy surgery was so kind that I have requested she do my mammograms each time I have gone back for followups. As a result, she and I have become friends."
Jeanne Sturdevant; diganosed in 1990 at age 45; artist; Texas
"If a needle wire localization is being done before biopsy or lumpectomy, ask if it can be done in the supine position. Most modern breast centers can do this. I had to sit up for the first round, only minutes before my lumpectomy. Between the discomfort of the procedure and anticipating surgery afterward, I passed out cold! My surgery was canceled, and I had to return for it a week later. The second time went much better. It was easier being able to lie down."
Donna Barnett; diagnosed in 1999 at age 40; registered nurse; California
"I refused to go back to the first radiation oncologist I saw, because he made me feel like a piece of meat. The second one was very sensitive to my feelings. He made a note on my radiation card that no male techs were to take care of me, and the female techs made of point of being busy with other things while I was undressing, thus making me feel less exposed. You have to speak up for yourself and let people know what your comfort levels are."
Copyright © 2001 by Barbara Delinksy Charitable Foundation for Breast Cancer Research.
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