Making Treatment Decisions

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QUESTION: I have breast cancer and am trying to make some decisions about treatment. I want to opt for lumpectomy but that isn't what is recommended. I feel my breast appearance is important and don't even want to go. Life and money problems and no relationship at the moment have all added up to my not even wanting to exist anymore, then this. If you have any comments for me, please send them, and thank you for letting me vent. I need to talk and wish my son had a way to cope. He is the one I am worried about more than myself! (although I'm quite TERRIFIED about surgery and anesthesia, and how the bills will get paid, etc.). I feel that those with money get THE BEST because they can buy choices and knowledge.

Please let me know if you know if there are any simpler ways to remove a lump that is cancer besides an overnight hospital stay and general anesthesia. I want a local and the least scarring possible. PLEASE let me know any resources available to me to research new options to treating breast cancer. I need to know who, how, and where by yesterday! Today the oncologist made me believe that the faster it's all done the better.

ANSWER: When you are confronted with so many different issues and feel overwhelmed, confused and upset-worried for your life-you need to step back and decide what's most important. It sounds to me like your first priority is to get rid of the possibility of any residual cancer, in a manner that is kind and respectful of your whole being. Once you get aligned behind that goal, you will feel more clear and confident. Your son will take his cues from you, and feel reassured. There are many choices of effective treatment for women all along the way-with a number of "right" answers. Learn more about breast-conserving surgery. Work with your doctors on your options. Together figure out what fits your style and philosophy. Then after all that, check out the price tags of the various regimens and see what would be covered by your insurance policy. If you are receiving "standard of care," they usually cover the associated expenses.

—Marisa Weiss, M.D.

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