Community Shares: Advice for Newly Diagnosed with Advanced & Metastatic Breast Cancer
The good news is that you are not alone. But we do know that in the beginning, it takes time to find community. To help those newly diagnosed feel the support of this incredible community, we reached out on the AdvancedBreastCancer.net Facebook page. We heard from many voices in the community. Here’s what you had to say. We asked:
“What’s a good piece of advice for someone newly diagnosed with advanced or metastatic breast cancer?”
One day at time with stage 4 MBC
A few of you also shared that after getting the diagnosis, allow yourself time. This is not a period where you need to rush. Several of you pointed out that this diagnosis doesn’t mean you will die tomorrow. You have time to get centered, then make an informed plan of action.
“Stay calm and make well-thought-out decisions.”
“Stay offline for a while, PAUSE and let things settle. Get your bearings about your own individual situation first.”
“Take each day at a time.”
Get educated on Stage 4 MBC
When you are in a good headspace, take some time to dig in and research this disease. You may read about treatments or alternative medicines that might be of interest. You might learn more than what your doctor is telling you. As long as education doesn’t leave you feeling fearful, education can be an empowering step to take.
“Get educated on MBC.”
Find a mentor in the MBC community
More than a few of you shared that now is the time to start connecting with women who have experience with metastatic breast cancer. There is an entire community of women who know exactly what you are going through. These women can be found in your town or city, or online through sites such as the Advancedbreastcancer.net Facebook page. Once you do connect with these women, not only will you find empathy and understanding, but you’ll receive guidance and suggestions from those who have first-hand experience with this diagnosis.
“Find a mentor—someone who has your same diagnosis and is slightly "ahead" of you in terms of time.”
“Find an online group. How I wish I had that. I had no clue what MBC was. I was getting rid of clothes, cleaning out junk drawers and planning to die. It was so, so sad. And then I found support online from women just like me! Living, advocating, researching, amazing, honest women that I felt safe with. I have learned so much.”
Practice self-care while living with stage 4 breast cancer
This is a time when you will be well served to be especially tender to yourself. If you’re not sure what that looks like, ask yourself what would you do for a friend if she suddenly found herself with an MBC diagnosis? Some days you may want to scream. You may need a nap. You may need to call friends to vent. Whatever it looks like for you, please look after yourself as needs arise.
“Self-care… cry if you want, rest if you want, exercise if you want. You get the idea... the thought that you will die tomorrow will pass because you won’t.”
Find support and positivity with MBC
It takes a lot of energy to fight breast cancer, from going to doctor appointments, eating healthy, maintaining hope and encouraging yourself to keep going. The process is much easier and less draining if you have positive people in your camp, holding your hand, believing in a healthy outcome and cheering you on throughout.
“Deal only with positive people.”
“Surround yourself with supportive and positive people.”
MBC care team
You may find that it takes a village. If it feels good to start working with massage therapists and acupuncturists, do so. Nutritionists can also help you on your journey, avoiding inflammation and choosing foods that help heal. There is no wrong way to heal.
“I created my own care team that includes a naturopath, nutritionist, acupuncturist, massage therapist and energy healer. Add a great medical oncologist to the team and you will stay Amazed at all that is out there for you.”
Finding hope with stage 4 breast cancer
Likewise, if your own attitude is positive and hopeful, you’ll have a smoother journey. So many of you shared that attitude is everything. Instead of fearing and believing your life is over, you can shift that thinking instead of the idea that you are a healthy person with cancer. You will survive. The more you can imagine and see yourself living a long and healthy life, the more likely it will be so.
“Don’t spend your days dwelling on what you will miss. Spend your days creating memories for everyone to cherish. You are living, not dying.”
“I feel like a healthy person with cancer!”
“Today you are not going to die.”
“You too can be a healthy person living with cancer!
“Don’t give up hope. And get 2 or 3 opinions from doctors.”
Comment below what you would tell someone newly diagnosed. Thank you to everyone who shared about her experience with breast cancer. We appreciate your honesty and strength. And hope that readers find connection and support in your words.
Do you have an MBC mentor/mentee?