Breast Cancer affects 1 out of every 8 women born in the United States. This is a staggering statistic.
Like many people, I have friends and collegues who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Over 20 years ago, a friend of mine was diagnosed. Luckily, she had gone for a mammogram and they found the cancer early. She immediately went in for a biopsy and days later had a mastectomy. I still remember sitting with her and attempting to help her find information that would help her make a decision. Back then, there wasn’t a lot of information that would help women make a decision.
Out of fear, she opted for a full mastectomy. Things have changed so much since then. There is so much more information for women to help them make a good choice for their care. Women can now make a choice that is not based on fear, but on statistics.
I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in early December of 2014. After the initial shock (there had never been breast cancer in my family) I knew I had a decision to make. I recalled all of the information I had read about 20 years prior and had a serious discussion with my surgeon. I made the decision to have a lumpectomy. The surgeon felt she would be able to get all of the cancer and that I would be considered a Stage 0.
Invasive cancer was found and after a surgery to remove some of my lymph nodes I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. My next step was radiation. I went to radiation therapy 5 days a week for 8 weeks.
I will continue to have many visits with Doctors scheduled for the next 4 years. I won’t be declared cancer free until I have hit the 5 year mark. I see a surgeon, a radiologist, an oncologist, get regular blood work and go in for a mammogram every 6 months. I am very lucky to have a wonderful medical team on my side. I feel I am well taken care of.
When I found out I had cancer, I quickly realized there were a few things that were important to me:
- I always had a family member or friend go to each appointment with me. I walked around in a daze for a while and needed them to be my “brain”
- I learned to ask for help. Surgery, radiation and chemo can leave you physically and mentally exhausted. Asking for help is not being weak. I learned this the hard way.
- I learned to honor my feelings. At times I wanted to be alone. At times I wanted to talk about my cancer and then there were many days when I felt I needed to “own” it and make it my own.
- Be educated. I decided that it was important for me to educate myself about the various stages and types of breast cancer. I read about the different choices I may have for treatment. When I went to see a surgeon, oncologist or radiologist, I was prepared with questions. Having knowledge of what was in my future gave me a sense of power in a situation where cancer had control of my life.
One of the things that I wasn’t prepared for was the cost of all of this medical care. In the fist two months of medical care, I hit was is called our “catastrophic” care amount for our insurance. That means I spent over $6,000 in medical care.
The new year brought more out of pocket expenses. I began radiation and each visit was over $700. Again, I had to pay out of pocket until I reached my “catastrophic” amount of $6,000.
I recently found out that Aflac has a cancer policy. I wish I would have known about this earlier. Here is some information from their site:
- A cancer insurance policy can be used not only for treatment expenses not covered by major medical insurance, but also for extra child care that may be needed, transportation to and from the doctor or treatments, and even everyday living expenses, such as mortgage payments or groceries.
- If you or a family member does end up being diagnosed with breast cancer, or any cancer, you want to be able to focus on recovery not finances, and a cancer insurance policy can help you do just that.
- Plus, with Aflac’s recently introduced One Day PaySM initiative, which allows Aflac to process, approve and pay eligible claims in just a day, you can have the cash you need in hand faster than ever before.*
Aflac is working with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) again for its second annual “This Duck Wears Pink” campaign. Aflac supports AACR – the first and largest cancer research organization in the world with a membership of more than 35,000 professionals residing in 101 countries working on the front lines of the effort to eradicate cancer. You can purchase products or make donations to help this cause here.
If anyone you know finds out they have cancer, make sure you listen to what they are asking for. They may want a shoulder to cry on, they may want a meal delivered to them, they may not want to hear the word cancer. Be gentle with them and be informed. It may take a few months, in my case it took almost a year, but eventually they will be able to talk about cancer and will need your ear.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.