form your team

You will be working with a team of doctors and specialists through your treatment. You will often start (and may have already met) with a surgeon and hopefully also a nurse navigator. Your nurse navigator should be someone who is there to answer any questions and provide you guidance throughout the whole treatment experience. Utilize this person. Confirm assumptions, ask for their opinion or ask for referrals to other doctors with them.

Your surgeon will explain the entire treatment process with you and often refer you to other doctors. Your surgeon will also make recommendations and should be giving you enough information to make good choices for her treatment. You especially want your surgeon to be someone who specializes or devotes much of his/her practice to breast diseases.

The other members forming your team will be: a radiologist, oncologist, fertility specialists (if you plan on having children), and a plastic surgeon (for reconstruction if having a mastectomy). Departments don’t always communicate together. It is vital to take notes, keep documents and records in a binder, understand next steps, and confirm action steps between departments.

Remember, you don’t have to stay with the first doctor you talk to. No doctor should tell you what to do, but should only make suggestions. They should be sympathetic, knowledgeable and encouraging.

Don’t ever let a doctor talk you into a decision you don’t feel comfortable with and you should always seek a second opinion if you are ever unsure.

This is your wife’s life and you need to be determined to choose your best options. If anything about a care provider doesn’t sit right with your wife, seek another practitioner. Who you chose as your doctors (like every choice in treatment) is your wife’s decision. You should always offer your thoughts to her, but she is in charge. You are supporting her and her decision.

Line up second opinions right away so you don’t have to wait weeks between doctors. Set up your appointments early and be okay to change or cancel depending on circumstances.