6abc Beating the odds against Breast Cancer: Communication is key

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Beating the Odds against Breast Cancer: Communication is Key: Sharrie Williams reports on Action News at 4 p.m., October 23, 2018

No matter the age, a breast cancer diagnosis is stunning.

But experts say overcoming the shock to forge good communications with your doctors can make a big difference in your success.

Fran Register Joyner said hearing the words "breast cancer" really threw her for a loop.

"The information was coming so fast, I didn't have time to respond," she said.

Dr. Carmen Guerra said he hears that from a lot of patients.

"There's only so much information you can hold in your mind, not to mention process," Guerra said.

When Fran's treatment schedule was switched unexpectedly, the admitted control freak lost her cool but found her voice.

"It was a good decision," she said. "But they made it without me."

Fran's husband Quinton had the solution for keeping track of everything - especially her questions.

"He'd say - start writing it down. here's a book - here's a notebook, starting writing them down," said Fran.

Fran says you don't need to be a good writer - just jot it down - explanations from doctors, your concerns, how you feel day to day and any symptoms.

"Nobody knows what your symptoms are but you," she said.

Fran says they really prepared her through each stage of her treatments.

Another key in better communication is reliable information.

Dr. Guerra recommends sites like the American Cancer Society's Breast Cancer - Clear & Simple.

"It's all the normal questions a woman would ask after the diagnosis of breast cancer," he said.

And share your notes and information with your care team, your family and loved ones.

Fran says when you share, you get support in so many ways - like her husband's response to her fear of needles.

"He would sing to me and the whole room would sing with him. It was like a choir rehearsal," she said.

"Communication about the diagnosis may be one of the biggest predictors to how well women do with their breast cancer outcome," said Dr. Guerra.
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