“We’ve received the results of your cancer screening test and, unfortunately, there is a spot that looks concerning.”
These are statements too many patients hear and can be the start of a potentially life changing journey. Cancer comes in many shapes, sizes, and locations, and, for many people, it can be confusing and anxiety producing.
Recently, I sat across from a patient and had a similar conversation. Mary, an Iora Primary Care patient, came into our practice with concerns about a change in one of her breasts. We discussed all the possible non-cancer and cancer causes. Her ultrasound initially appeared reassuring, but a biopsy showed breast cancer. Mary met with her new breast cancer doctors, discussed various treatment options, and ultimately had the cancer surgically removed. Thankfully, she has remained cancer free.
On paper, this seems like a very smooth process and ideal outcome. The reality, however, is not always as it seems. Mary endured many doctor visits, questions, concerns about the right thing to do at each step, and fear.
Often when patients hear the word cancer they (rightfully so) have difficulty processing the treatment options and information they receive. Similarly, with lots of new different doctors (cancer medication doctors, cancer surgeons, radiation doctors, etc), people can easily feel lost. Cancer clinics work hard to make patients feel comfortable and to coordinate their care, but it can still sometimes feel overwhelming.
Mary came to Iora Primary Care frequently during her cancer journey to talk about how she was dealing with her diagnosis and to review the options her cancer doctors had presented to her. Our team was able to help her process and interpret the information she received. Her decisions and counseling were done with her cancer doctors but Mary, like many patients and families, benefited from a safe place to ask questions in order to feel confident about her decisions.
If you, or a loved one, is on their own cancer journey, I encourage you to always ask for help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctors, primary or cancer, to discuss how you are holding up. You do not have to face this alone.
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