Ask a question

Consult Dr. Sangeetha Kolluri

MONDAY | 9am - 4pm
Austin Cancer Centers - Park St. David's
900 E. 30th Street, Suite 100
Austin, TX 78705
512.334.2777

WEDNESDAY | 9am - 4pm
Austin Cancer Centers - Lakeway
200 Medical Parkway, Suite 120
Lakeway, TX 78738
512.334.2881

FRIDAY | 9am - 4pm
Austin Cancer Centers - Kyle
1180 Section Pkwy, Suite 150
Kyle, TX 78640
512.334.5202

Newly Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is not one disease. There are many types, stages and each case is different from the other.

When a person is diagnosed with breast cancer, information comes in overwhelmingly quickly. Even before the news sinks in, a swarm of physicians specializing in different fields follow with a plethora of information, all in new and sometimes scary vocabulary.

But the important thing to remember is that medical science and research for breast cancer treatment has advanced leaps and bounds. It is okay to get additional screening, imaging studies and opinions, and ask questions to understand the characteristics of your tumor and plan of care.

All breast cancers are not the same

Tumor size, presence of cancer cells in lymph nodes or other parts of the body and tumor biology are essential pieces of information about your specific breast cancer.

Your breast surgeon helps you understand three specific characters about your cancer and how it impacts your treatment options.

Stage

There are four stages to cancer, four being the most advanced. These stages describe the size of the tumor and the extent of which it has spread to other organs.

Hormone sensitive

When a tissue sample is collected, it is tested to see if it is sensitive to the hormones estrogen or progesterone. If your tumor is hormone receptor-positive, then hormone therapy may be recommended to suppress these hormones and thereby reduce the size of the tumor.

HER2

Your tissue sample will also be tested for sensitivity towards Human epidermal growth receptor (HER2), a protein that influences the growth and spread of cancerous tumors.

Factors that influence your breast cancer treatment plan

A clear understanding of the above information points you in the direction to research further towards your treatment options. There are three major factors that play a significant role in your cancer treatment plan.

Genetics

Some breast cancers are due to a mutation in genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. When these genes are mutated, or not working correctly, this can significantly increase the risk of breast cancer formation. This plays a significant role not only in your treatment plan but also future cancer screens for other types of cancers.

Fertility

Drug therapy (chemotherapy) and hormone therapy can affect fertility especially in women within the childbearing age. It is important to consult a fertility specialist prior to chemotherapy, and make an informed decision. Once you have gathered all the information and have clarity of mind, together with your breast surgeon, you can then come with a multidisciplinary cancer care plan that is tailored for you.

Breast cancer treatment is a team effort

When you are diagnosed with breast cancer, it is important to know that you are not alone.

You have a team to help you navigate this diagnosis, and this team usually is made of a breast surgeon, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist (if radiation is necessary.) Other important members of the team can be a nurse navigator, physical therapist, genetic counselor, social worker, spiritual care provider, psychologist and therapist.

Additionally, depending on your specific case a dietitian, nutritionist and lifestyle counselor may be recommended.

Expect the first couple of weeks following your cancer diagnosis to be challenging. Your team, led by Dr. Kolluri, is here to support your goals of treatment and quality of life, to help provide you with the best survivorship experience possible.

Life After Breast Cancer

After going through a series of tests and treatment that might sometimes last upto a year, you may be eager for a taste of normalcy - for you to get back to your old life.

It is however important to remember that even though the treatment is over, your body and mind are still healing. Fatigue and other side effects like “chemo-brain” may not go away as soon as your treatment ends.

Be patient with yourself

Although you may be anxious to get back to school or work or home to take care of your family, you may notice that you have reduced cognitive ability and multi-tasking may seem like a challenge. Remember, whether it is surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or hormone therapy, your body just went through a major trauma and needs time to recover.

Don’t hesitate to share your physical and mental condition with your family and friends. More often than most, they will only be understanding and support you further with your day-to-day activities.

The new normal

It might take over three months or more in some cases for your hair to grow back - and you may find your new hair has a lot more greys than they used to - for your skin and nails to feel healthy. But it might take longer for you to accept your new body. Standing in front of the mirror and taking a look at your body alone can be a traumatizing experience for many.

Yet for some the fear of relapse or fear that other members of your family might be diagnosed with breast cancer in future can be stressful too. Annual screenings after a successful treatment are usually anxiety inducing.

Talk to your medical team and if necessary, a therapist. These screening tests are meant to help diagnose a possible cancer in the very early stages, and it certainly does not mean that you will relapse for certain.

Share your story

Participate in support groups when you feel some of your energy returning and can confidently step out of the house. Sometimes knowing that there are others like you can bring immense hope. Sharing your story and journey towards surviving breast cancer may even help many who are fighting it and finding it hard to stay positive.

Embrace a healthier lifestyle

Equate surviving cancer to getting a second chance at life. Follow a healthy lifestyle - eat your greens, consume more vegetables, reduce oily and fatty foods that are high in carcinogens, reduce consumption of alcohol and other recreational drugs. If possible, quit smoking.

Exercise can also play a huge role in helping you feel energised. You need not have to train for a marathon, but a walk in the park or gentle yoga helps you feel both physically and mentally great.

Practice gratitude

Meditation and other mindful living habits help you deal with the entire ordeal and look at life with a positive outlook.

Life after breast cancer will certainly have its ups and downs. Some days will be easier and some hard. But you will have forever changed - you will notice that your perspective towards life is no longer the same and your priorities have changed. Some even try to live their lives to the fullest, follow their passions and try to not have any regrets.

Ask a question

Consult Dr. Sangeetha Kolluri

MONDAY | 9am - 4pm
Austin Cancer Centers - Park St. David's
900 E. 30th Street, Suite 100
Austin, TX 78705
512.334.2777

WEDNESDAY | 9am - 4pm
Austin Cancer Centers - Lakeway
200 Medical Parkway, Suite 120
Lakeway, TX 78738
512.334.2881

FRIDAY | 9am - 4pm
Austin Cancer Centers - Kyle
1180 Section Pkwy, Suite 150
Kyle, TX 78640
512.334.5202