Choosing a care team that will help fight an illness or disease is difficult. I get asked often how I knew I was picking the right doctor or the best for that matter. I questioned initially should I go to a bigger hospital? Working in healthcare I knew that I had to feel confident and comfortable with my care team, I needed to feel like all the best treatment options were offered to me, and I also needed to be comfortable knowing I could ask questions and raise concerns if I needed to. Since day one I educated myself as much as I possibly could about my diagnosis, after all I am the leader of my fight; I researched every aspect of my cancer so that I could make sure I asked the right questions. I felt empowered to build the absolute best team of caregivers, and to do so I had lots of questions I wanted answered.
Fortunately I truly believe both my care team and the oncologist I selected are amazing, the best in my opinion. My oncologist from the first day we met and everyday since I have felt comfortable and confident under her care. The most important decision of my life was choosing an oncologist I trusted to help lead my fight, and I needed to feel 100% confident that no matter what I faced along the way she was there to guide both Matt and I to help us make informed decisions. She is fantastic, and in conjunction with another breast cancer specialist at Dana Farber she develops the best course of treatments for my cancer. I feel fortunate to be so close to Dana Farber, they are on the cutting edge of cancer research and treatment, and the ability to work in conjunction with my doctor locally gives me the best treatment options. I always want to be certain that I have the absolute best team for the long journey ahead, and all the best treatment options.
It felt strange to live a couple of weeks knowing I had cancer in my body, but the plan was implemented initially to have four treatments Adriamycin Cytoxin, followed by four treatments of Taxol. After the first couple of treatments the response was great, my tumor marker dropped significantly which we expected, it was just the punch I needed to start my journey. With the recommendations of my doctor at Dana Farber it was decided that I continue with 2 additional treatments of the Adriamycin Cytoxin as the response was great and I was tolerating chemotherapy. I wasn’t sure at that point what was right or wrong, but if the chemo I was getting was working then it made sense to continue with it. There was a risk though, potential effects on my heart; I was healthy besides the cancer so to me the plan made sense, was there a risk yes but without question the benefits far outweighed the risks at that point. It was important to have the best treatment, as a nurse I completely understand that doctors have conflicting opinions, but I felt confident that together both doctors came to the best course of treatment for me.
Chemotherapy is taxing on a person, the side effects are miserable at times. A crucial part of my journey extends past my doctors, the staff at the cancer centers are vital as well. I would spend countless hours for the rest of my life at the cancer center, and wanted to be comfortable with where I was going and with the staff there as well. I could not ever imagine receiving care from a place where I was not comfortable. The Cancer Center is amzing, from the minute we walk through the door for appointments I feel comfortable. They offer more than just meeting my medical needs or giving medications. They offer support to both Matt and I, they offer reassurance during a vulnerable time when I feel like I have no control. The nurses and staff that we see often are some of the best, and have become part of my journey just as so many family and friends are. They are the friendly faces I see often, they are compassionate, caring and offer the best support during the scariest journey I will ever face.
In addition to my medical care team, it is important for me to have both personal caregivers and advisers to help. They provide the everyday support, just listening, helping in any way they can; as I mentioned in my previous blog I have the best in Moore Fight Moore Strong!
Often throughout my journey I have used my personal experience as a nurse to find myself saying “ok pull it together, stop for a minute and breathe.” And asking myself “what would you tell one of your patients or what would you say to a friend with your diagnosis.” This simple act keeps me grounded, well most of the time, and helps me visualize what I want my journey to be, the best treatment plan no matter what, and under the care of the best doctors. No matter what the road ahead brings, I know with full confidence I have an outstanding care team behind me, I have to continue to have faith that I am getting the best treatment options, and without a doubt doing all I can to fight MBC. As I would say to a friend or a patient, knowledge about my diagnosis is powerful, the more I know the better equipped I am to play an active role in fighting MBC.
Moore Fight Moore Strong!