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Cancer survivor stories: Be your own advocate | Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

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Published on May 11, 2010

As a breast cancer survivor, Magnolia learned first-hand that primary care doctors are often unaware of the unique medical needs of cancer survivors. Learn how to establish an after-care plan: http://www.dana-farber.org/For-Adult-...


Transcription:


I was 33 years old, and I felt a pain under my arm. I then told a friend that I had this pain, and what was that saying about breast cancer? If you feel something and if it moves, you’re OK, and if it doesn’t move—some silly myth that I had no idea about, and she said, “I don’t care what the myth is. You should go get that checked.”

The breast specialist did a biopsy on a Friday. By Monday morning, he called and stated that I had breast cancer. Part of the work I do is educating in particular people in communities of color about cancer. So many cancer survivors don’t know how important it is for them to be mindful about the long-term effects of the drugs they received, and as a cancer survivor, I had no idea about treatment summaries or aftercare plans until I got to Dana-Farber.

I went through the Survivorship Clinic and was able to get my treatment summary and aftercare plan and sent it to my primary care doctor. I went to my follow-up as instructed, and he said, “Oh, I got some letters about you from Dana-Farber.” I said, “Yes. That’s partly why I’m here, because it’s part of an aftercare plan that I want to put in place.” He said, “What are these letters about? What is this about?” I said, “Well, it’s a treatment summary and aftercare plan, because having long-term effects, we want to be careful and mindful about certain things, and I’m going to need certain screenings and blood work every six months, heart monitoring.” “Oh, is that what it is?” So, I literally went to follow-up appointment and had to recite to him what the treatment summary letter content was and the aftercare plan. It was amazing to me, and I love my doctor and he’s fabulous, but that happened to me. Can you imagine?

So, part of the work that we try to do here is helping primary care providers make survivorship issues a primary issue that they need to address when their patients come back to primary care. The opportunity to work here came, and I thought maybe having had cancer will [inform 02:37], but that’s not consciously why I came. You know, as live revolves—duh, I’m here, because I have an experience that will help people, and I need to channel that.

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