When Faced With Treatment Decisions – Knowledge and Support are Key

Guest blog by Joseline Lopez, Komen Helpline Specialist

When Vivienne contacted the Susan G. Komen® Breast Care Helpline, giving up felt like her only option.

In April of 2014, Vivienne Randle received the daunting news that she had triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). After her bilateral mastectomy, Vivienne’s fears of the chemotherapy side effects, and not knowing what to ask her doctor, halted her decision-making process. Feeling stuck and unable to decide whether she should continue with treatment, she called the helpline.

Vivienne was very anxious about treatment. I felt the need to educate her, and debunk the myths that she had expressed regarding the side effects of chemotherapy.

Acknowledging her fears and addressing her anxiety made her feel at ease. We talked about chemotherapy, its’ side effects and what to expect –using one of Komen’s resources “Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Chemotherapy”.

As I went on, Vivienne’s tone of voice began to change, and she was no longer crying. As we continued to talk, she shared that she was also struggling with finances and a lack of emotional support. These factors contributed to her feeling alone during her breast cancer journey.

Thankfully, I was able to connect her with many resources, including the Co-Pay Assistance Fund through the Patient Advocate Foundation which Komen funds.  I also referred her to an organization called CancerCare for emotional support. Vivienne felt relieved, and expressed her gratitude for being able to express herself to someone who compassionately listened to her situation. Vivienne then expressed her desire to, “reach through the phone and hug me.”

Upon hearing this comment, I felt a wave of happiness and joy come over me. I felt so proud and happy to be working on the helpline and that I was able to serve and connect with Vivienne.  Working on the helpline can be challenging but challenges lead to priceless rewards and help strengthen us in ways that we had never imagined.

A week later, I made a follow-up call to Vivienne and she told me that she was able to make a treatment decision and also received financial assistance! She agreed to call us back if anything else came up and she continued to express her gratitude.

Vivienne’s experience is unique, yet in many ways similar to the experiences that other breast cancer survivors face. Being able to have an impact in the lives of men and women facing this disease is both an honor and pleasure.

The helpline is here to serve the breast cancer community by providing breast cancer information, financial resources, emotional support and sometimes just a listening ear.

If you have any questions about breast cancer, we encourage you to contact our breast care helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636). All calls to our breast care helpline are answered by a trained and caring staff Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET and from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. PT.

We are waiting for your call!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

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Susan G. Komen has written 281 articles for Susan G. Komen® | Blog

Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure®, we have invested more than $1.9 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.