How to support breast cancer survivors
Speaker 1: (00:00)
During October, everywhere you turn, there are pink ribbons and fundraisers to help raise money for research and awareness of a disease that affects one in eight women. Without question research funding has helped advance life diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. For many that's reason to celebrate, but for some living with, or who have had breast cancer, the month of October can be a constant reminder of the most traumatic experience in their life. And not just for the 3.8 million survivors in the U S but for those who have lost someone to breast cancer as well. So how can those impacted cope and how can those close to them help? Joining me is Dr. Carrie Constantine, who is a breast medical oncologist with Scripps MD Anderson cancer center. Dr. Costin, teeny. Welcome.
Speaker 2: (00:52)
Speaker 1: (00:53)
So you offer a lot of support to your patients who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer, or perhaps just finished treatment in some ways, the month of October is a moment to celebrate empowerment, but for many it can be distressing. Can you talk about that?
Speaker 2: (01:10)
I think it's important to recognize that any breast cancer patient either undergoing treatment or a breast cancer survivor is going to experience the month of October and any month differently. Some identify very strongly as a cancer survivor and participate fully and different events that occur while others are more introspective and private and focus on moving forward with different aspects of their life. Everyone processes this situation uniquely, oh,
Speaker 1: (01:39)
What are some ways you help patients and their families cope with the feelings of anxiety and trauma that may be triggered by breast cancer awareness campaigns
Speaker 2: (01:51)
Here at Scripps MD Anderson, we try to provide a comprehensive individual care for not only the patients, but also their families and really utilizing our compassionate care for the whole person. And that of course involves their medical complaints and issues, but also what's going on with them emotionally and helping them understand that there are different resources available in terms of support groups. We also have a wellness and ongoing care survivorship clinic here at Scripps MD Anderson. Some people prefer to speak one-on-one with individuals while others do enjoy and, and find compassion in a support group settings.
Speaker 1: (02:32)
What have you heard, um, over the month of October here, uh, from many of your patients in regards to their mental health,
Speaker 2: (02:40)
I've heard all aspects of it. I have patients who come in celebrating the month, um, participating in walks and other events that occur and others tell me it's a difficult month for them. And one that they try to avoid some of those different triggers for them. So it's okay to limit your exposure to some of those events that may be upsetting to individuals and set boundaries with not only friends and family, but also work colleagues who might be encouraging different activities for this month. Also understanding that they're not alone in these feelings and they should reach out to other trusted support resources that they have either in their own network or other breast cancer survivors that they've identified with to help with different emotions that can occur during this month.
Speaker 1: (03:27)
How can people around those impacted by breast cancer be be of support?
Speaker 2: (03:33)
I think it's important for family and friends of breast cancer survivors, to understand that this may not be a celebratory time for everyone. And instead, listen, observe a breast cancers, Canada, demeanor, and mood during this month and be a good listener. That's what our breast cancer survivors need is just support. And that support may come in different ways,
Speaker 1: (03:53)
Uh, that in mind, what do you think people need to really understand about a serious illness like breast cancer?
Speaker 2: (04:01)
It's important to know that breast cancer does affect a lot of women. As you mentioned, there are 3.8 million breast cancer survivors currently in the United States. And one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer. It's important to know that early detection is important and that when we find a breast cancer early, the cure rates are in the high 90% for these women. But understanding that it impacts women very differently. And to have that support is important for family and friends,
Speaker 1: (04:30)
Many people want to give money and to support breast cancer research. But how do you know if the organization you'd like to give to is in fact, research-based, I mean, one of the best ways to support research,
Speaker 2: (04:44)
There are different opportunities. So looking at national sites, um, they will all list where their philanthropy, philanthropic gifts are, are going to, if it's research focused or other programs here at Scripps MD Anderson, individuals who wish to contribute can be specific as to the intent of their gift for research, or like I said, other support services that breast cancer patients utilize.
Speaker 1: (05:10)
How impactful do you think breast cancer awareness month is in terms of advancing the needed research?
Speaker 2: (05:16)
I think it's been very impactful. It raises awareness. So for that those women who maybe haven't had their mammogram due to COVID a pandemic or fears, it can be for some women, their first step towards scheduling that first mammogram appointment. I think that's important. And as you mentioned, there is significant resources and research efforts into breast cancer, and many of them have come to fruition based on funds that are raised during breast cancer awareness month.
Speaker 1: (05:46)
I've been speaking with Dr. Carrie constant, teeny, who is a breast medical oncologist with Scripps MD Anderson cancer center. Dr. Costin Teenie. Thank you so much. Thank you.
During October everywhere you turn there are pink ribbons and fundraisers to help raise money for research and awareness of a disease that affects one in eight women.
Research funding has aided in advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. For many, that’s the reason to celebrate. But for some living with or who have had breast cancer, the month of October can be triggering.
And not just for the 3.8 million survivors in the U.S., but for those who have lost someone to breast cancer as well. So, how can those impacted cope and how can those close to them help?
“I think it’s important to recognize that any breast cancer patient either undergoing treatment or a breast cancer survivor is going to experience the month of October differently," she said. "Some identify very strongly as a cancer survivor and participate fully in different events that occur while others are more introspective and private and focus on moving forward with different aspects of their life.”