When Breast Cancer Hits Close to Home


As a physician, I am constantly asked how I am able to give patients bad news without becoming too emotionally attached. It is definitely something that is learned over time and not always easy to do. However, it is something that I feel is a necessity. We want our patients to trust our judgment and feel confident that we can remain levelheaded in times of crisis. You wouldn’t want your doctor delivering news of cancer through sobs. With that being said, when faced with the news of cancer of a relative, all that “training” goes out the door. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the beginning of 2014. After repeatedly telling her that “everything was going to be okay” and “it’s probably nothing,” I was extremely unprepared to hear that her biopsy had, in fact, come back as malignant. During the time I should have spent consoling her, she was consoling me! I eventually got it together, but it made me even more aware of how my patients must feel when I give them bad news. Over the next several months, I watched my mother go through 3 surgeries and chemotherapy. She never once complained and always seemed to have a positive outlook on her situation. During Breast Cancer Awareness month, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge my mother and her struggle, but also the millions of breast cancer survivors and their families. I now have two vantage points from which to look at this disease. As a physician, I am constantly reminding my patients of the importance of breast cancer screening. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I know the emotional road that?s travelled as you watch your loved one battle cancer. When you have to take off your own white coat and allow other doctors to take care of those most dear to your heart, it is truly humbling. To the women and their families out there who have walked down this uncertain road, I empathize with you. I feel blessed to live in a country where modern medicine has allowed us to detect cancers early and treat them. This month, I am reminded of the importance of our work as Gynecologists. By screening our patients, we are first line agents in the fight against breast cancer. I am now, more than ever, convinced that mammograms are imperative and save lives! This month, be a health advocate for yourself and the women in your life. Breast cancer can be devastating, but with early detection, good patient outcomes are well within our reach. I’ve seen it, I’m grateful for it, and I will continue to do my part.

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