Thursday, May 8, 2014

Breast cancer, DCIS: Questions I wish I had asked

There are questions I only think about after I get home after a doctor's appointment, when the doctor has gone back to his Houston office or on a vacation.  I need a "question reminder note" pinned to my mitten like a little kid, or to my car sun visor.

And sometimes I don't realize what I should have asked until I fill out the patient feedback questionnaire.       The questions are sometimes general/all purpose but important.  Other times I don't have enough information from any research to know what I should ask:

Specific to breast cancer:  Looking back, the first day of the boost was worse than all the rest of my DCIS treatment by far.  How could have guessed what to ask,  what to expect.  I wish I had had a crystal ball.

 I would have asked the radiation oncologist (or my regular radiation therapist, who was better at talking to people:)

Exactly what happens that's different on the first day of the boost?  Please be specific.

What's the longest that first boost treatment can take?

My breasts are heavy and not firm:  will this complicate the first day?

If I had pressed for details, maybe I would have been prepared for an unfamiliar radiation therapist, rushing in and out, uncovering me endless times, changing my position, making adjustments. At the same time one of my regular therapists on my other side would be taking films to see if they were on target.  If I were a woman with five young kids, all this rushing around (combined with a really painful arm) might not have given me the shakes.

(Oh, and also: What medicine can I keep at home in case an itch develops without warning?)

And are any of my activities limited?

Good questions I did ask the surgeon about lumpectomy:

What will I be like after the procedure?

What will I be able to do?

Can I lift my little weights?

 Again, only with a crystal ball, would I have known before the lumpectomy to ask if I should buy a different bra or a bra to wear at night to keep my incision from any strain, since my breasts are not firm.)  Luckily, Divine intervention or research  prompted me to buy the little-unbra, almost like a regular little top.  And I did sleep in my soft regular bra for a few days.

Later, maybe next post, some General Questions to Ask Doctors.

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