Michelle’s Place has developed a program to deliver a monthly series of talks on a wide range of topics related to cancer, treatments and wellness. The talks are delivered locally at Michelle's Place by subject matter experts and open to all.
How can I learn more?
Education is key for women to take control of their health and to increase the early detection and prevention of breast cancer.
At Michelle’s Place, we strongly believe in educating women on not only breast health and breast cancer, but also on ways to improve overall health and lifestyle. Michelle's Place offers a wide-range of educational resources available to the community on breast cancer as well as other health topics.
Our core messages include:
Educate Yourself - Understand Breast Cancer
Breast cancer has no preference for age. Young women can and do get breast cancer. So what do you do when you have been diagnosed? How do you navigate the many choices and decisions you have to make? How do you get the best care and the most support? The following suggestions can help you gain control over your own breast health care and take an active part in your health.
Just because you don’t have breast cancer now, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be educated on the topic. Breast cancer can happen to anyone, no matter what age, race, height, weight, even gender. Knowing your body is essential to finding any potential problems. Know how your breasts look and feel and tell your doctor if you notice any changes, such as: hard or thickening lumps, change in size and shape of the breast, dimpling or puckering of the skin, rash or redness of the nipple or breast skin, nipple discharge, or new pain that remains for longer periods of time.
Do a breast self-exam once a month. For more a complete guide on how to conduct your breast self-exam visit: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam/bse_steps.
Understand Your Diagnosis
Not all cases of breast cancer are the same. There are many different factors that can affect your treatment and decisions. Just because someone you know had a certain experience, doesn’t mean yours will be the same. Know that it is completely normal to be overwhelmed and loaded with questions. Before you see a medical provider, make a list of any questions you would like answered. Do not leave until all your questions have been asked and answered. Remember to ask your doctor for your pathology reports; you will have one from both your biopsy and your surgery. Ask your healthcare team to explain the terms and information on the report.
Know Your Options
Just as not all breast cancers are the same, not all breast cancer treatments are the same. Explore all the options available to you and get second opinions. Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapies, and hormonal treatments. Insist that your doctor explain why one treatment is being recommended over another. Speak to your doctor about your family history. Together you may decide to consult with a genetic counselor to assess your risk of hereditary breast cancer. The results of either of these consults may help determine your treatment choices.
Be Your Own Health Advocate
In most cases, you have time to make decisions. Do not let a medical provider rush you into something you are not comfortable with. You can and should ask for a second opinion, gain understanding, research your options or explore other doctors. It is your body; be your own health advocate.
You have the right to your medical records. Ask for copies of everything—from laboratory and radiological scan reports to surgical notes. Michelle’s Place offers a Toolkit to help you organize your medical information. It offers plenty of space for all your notes and records received in one convenient folder. This Toolkit includes places to keep track of contact numbers, appointments, questions, test and pathology reports and medical bills. The first few appointments will be hard to understand, not to mention remember. Consider bringing someone with you to take notes and/or a recording device like your phone to document what happens at each visit.
You Are Not Alone
Looking for other women who have been down this road? Want to ask questions, read stories from survivors and get support? Michelle’s Place is here to help. You do not have to know all the answers right away. You do not have to go through this by yourself. We understand the process and the emotional toll this can take. Give yourself time to explore your options, ask questions and connect with other women who have been down this road or are trying to navigate their way through it as well. It can make all the difference in the world. Michelle’s Place has implemented programs and services to help women through the entire breast cancer process.