With this website I have aimed to provide practical advice for men and women standing at the edge of the breast cancer precipice not knowing which way to turn (and for their partners, families and friends who would like to know how to help). It is for anyone with any stage of breast cancer. Some sections will be more relevant to people with primary breast cancer, and others may be of more interest to people with secondary breast cancer. Everyone is welcome.
Upon being diagnosed with breast cancer, some people will grab the “breast-cancer-bull” by the horns: reading up on every single aspect of breast cancer treatment and research that they can get their hands on, asking their breast cancer surgeon and oncologist plenty of questions, squirreling away on the internet trying to find the answer to all the questions that their breast cancer surgeon and oncologist cannot answer and joining every support group that they can find. They want to know more: they want to be 100% informed about their treatment options, prognosis, and chances of survival recurrence and further spread.
On the other hand, some people will put up a mental wall and bury their heads in the sand: they are not interested in anything other than what they are told by their medical team. There is only so much space in one’s brain and after a cancer diagnosis most of that space is taken up with the diagnosis and the associated feelings about it. For these people, they just don’t have any extra space in their brain to deal with anything over and above the fact that they have breast cancer and have to go through, what looks like, a pretty tough treatment plan. They don’t feel up to visiting a support centre, speaking to anyone else with breast cancer or reading anything which remotely relates to breast cancer and its treatment. Most of all they are scared to look on the internet because they feel unable to cope with filtering the overwhelming/irrelevant/untrue information that is abound on the internet.
Whilst it is absolutely fine to take either of these approaches to a breast cancer diagnosis (there is no right or wrong way of dealing with it – it is a very personal reaction) most people fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Most people want to ask a few questions, do a bit of research and check their options. But they can be wary of going online because they know that in finding answers to their questions, they are also likely to come across some overwhelming, irrelevant, out of date and untrue information. Information that they will have to deal with: some of it may give them something else to worry about rather than helping to ease the stress. It can be a scary place.
Wherever you fall within this spectrum, this website is suitable for you. It’s a basic website that focuses on what to expect at each step of the way, together with plenty of practical checklists that you can use when preparing for/undergoing each stage of treatment. And if you want to look into anything in more detail then you can click through the links. For those of you looking for answers, options, guidance or detailed information this will be a good starting point and you will be able to click through all the external links to carry out your research.
The mission of www.tickingoffbreastcancer.com is to:
1. Provide a safe supportive breast cancer community.
2. Provide straightforward practical advice about breast cancer treatment and easy-to-navigate links to reputable online resources.
3. Provide easily accessible expert and professional advice on a range of topics relevant to breast cancer treatment.
4. Acknowledge that whilst breast cancer patients (past and present) share a number of similarities, each person has their own breast cancer story.
5. Provide companionship to someone going through breast cancer treatment by sharing personal stories.
The sections of this website
The website sections are categorised simply by the steps along your breast cancer journey from diagnosis to life during treatment:
You can also dip into any category at any time: it doesn’t matter at which stage of the breast cancer journey you may be.
Within each of these categories are lists. To-do lists, shopping lists, need-to-know lists and bullet point lists, all of which are based on my experience. At the end of each page I provide some links to additional information that is available online. So if you would like more information but don’t know where to go, these links are an excellent starting point.
Practical advice and directions to additional online resources
This website steers clear of anything other than practical advice (much of it is based upon my experience, some of it is recommended by cancer patients I’ve met in person or online and some is from research). I don’t talk about the different types of breast cancer nor do I talk about cancer statistics, stages and grades. I don’t discuss clinical trials, alternative therapies, new drugs, prognosis, recurrence or causes of cancer. I don’t talk in medical terms. And I certainly don’t give medical or professional advice. But I do provide plenty of signposts to where you can find that sort of information if you wish to read about it.
I have done a lot of online research and I have only included links to (what are in my opinion) reputable external websites. Some links are to the relevant pages of the well known cancer organisations (such as Cancer Research UK, Macmillan, Breast Cancer Care). Some links are through to lesser known organisations: ones that provide something over and above the larger organisations (such as Look Good Feel Better, Nourish with Jane Clarke and Your Sim Pal – to name just a few). I have also put in links to places where you can buy specialised cancer related products – things that will help you through your treatment – from online shops that you may not have come across (such as Live Better With Cancer, Drain Dollies, Not Another Bunch of Flowers and Defiant Beauty).
This website does not cover everything there is to know about breast cancer or its treatment
This is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to ALL things breast cancer. The Universe of Breast Cancer is so vast that there are certainly things that I haven’t commented upon. But I have tried to signpost you to as many additional resources as I can find.
Our stories and journeys are all different
There is no “one size fits all” for breast cancer. All of us have a different story and a different journey. But I hope that I can give you some support and encouragement and direct you to places with more information about your particular situation, whatever stage of breast cancer you have been diagnosed with.
Men can get breast cancer too
I know that, sadly, men can also get breast cancer. And whilst this website is primarily aimed at women going through breast cancer treatment (because I’m a woman and it’s based on my experience) a lot of the advice and links to additional resources will also be of help to men going through this.
Secondary Breast Cancer
If you have been diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, I really hope that you will find some of the practical sections helpful.
If your friend or family member has breast cancer
For those of you supporting a loved one or friend through their journey, there is plenty of information in each section to help you understand the journey and what you can do to help.
And there’s more……
So, pop the kettle on, make a cup of (green) tea and let’s get started….
And I have now written an article for Cancer Care Parcel about how this website came about – do have a read….
(Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a doctor, psychologist, surgeon, or other medical professional, I am just someone who has traveled the breast cancer road. Nothing in this website is intended to be taken as professional, medical or definitive advice. It merely contains tips and advice based on my experience together with information which I have researched from some excellent websites and books (all of which are listed in my useful links/resources section). I urge you to dip into some of the excellent professional websites such as those listed in the useful links/resources section and ALWAYS talk to your medical team about concerns and questions relating to your cancer journey and treatment plan. And please note that I cannot accept responsibility for the content of the guest blogs.)