By Serena Gordon
THURSDAY, Oct. 26, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Joan Lunden — co-host of “Great Morning America” for nearly two decades and also also also a long-time health advocate — is actually today also a breast cancer survivor.
By sharing her experience, Lunden hopes she can help various other women facing a frightening cancer diagnosis.
“This specific’s so shocking when you hear you have cancer, and also also also you feel so vulnerable,” said Lunden, 67.
Lunden never missed an annual mammogram to check for breast cancer. nevertheless each year, she said the process was “nerve-racking” because she has dense breast tissue that will can make This specific difficult to differentiate healthy breast tissue coming from tumor tissue.
Many women with dense breast tissue, particularly those with risk factors for breast cancer such as a family history, are advised to get additional testing — an MRI or sometimes an ultrasound. When Lunden went in for an ultrasound, she received shocking news.
“I had an aggressive, virulent form of breast cancer — triple negative breast cancer,” she said.
At the time Lunden was diagnosed, her cancer was stage 2 — meaning This specific was still confined to the breast or nearby lymph nodes.
With triple negative breast cancer, there are few treatment decisions to be made.
“My only choice was strong chemotherapy,” Lunden said. “and also also also of course, the first thing I thought was, ‘Am I going to lose my hair?’ and also also also of course, I did, along with my eyebrows and also also also eyelashes, nevertheless I didn’t know that will would likely happen, and also also also I didn’t know various other risks that will come with chemotherapy.”
Marilyn Leroy-Sterling is actually a nurse-practitioner and also also also a health and also also also wellness coordinator at Northern Westchester Hospital’s Cancer Treatment and also also also Wellness Center in Mount Kisco, N.Y.
While you’re in treatment, Leroy-Sterling said, “This specific’s very important to realize that will you’re not always in control anymore. You have to follow what your doctor and also also also your body are telling you to do.”
Communicating with your cancer team can help you get through the difficult times, she noted. “Communication is actually so important, and also also also no matter how modest you think something is actually, your doctor needs to know if you’re struggling,” she added.
Often, the earlier you let your doctor or oncology nurse know that will you don’t feel well, the sooner they can help which has a treatment or therapy, said Leroy-Sterling.
Lunden said she had a moment where she thought about hiding her diagnosis coming from the public. nevertheless then she thought, “This specific wasn’t just about me. This specific is actually something that will happens all the time, and also also also here was a chapter in my life where I could make a difference.”
So she blogged during her treatments — she ended up having surgery, chemotherapy and also also also radiation. Later, she teamed up with drug maker Amgen to create the “At Home with Joan” patient empowerment campaign. Amgen manufactures a drug that will helps to prevent neutropenia, a potentially serious chemotherapy complication.
Lunden hopes to help women find ways to stay in control and also also also cope with the many facets involved which has a cancer diagnosis.
For example, how do you tell your kids about cancer? Lunden has three older girls, nevertheless also had two sets of pre-teen twins when she was diagnosed.
“With the younger ones, we contemplated not saying anything at first, nevertheless my oncology nurse told me that will family secrets aren’t a Great thing, and also also also what kids imagine will be far worse than what’s truly going on. So you need to sit them down and also also also tell them — in an age-appropriate way — what’s going on,” she recommended.
and also also also tips for women going through treatment?
If you have family or friends who can accompany you to doctors’ appointments or chemotherapy, Lunden said, that will support can be very helpful.
Lunden said staying hydrated was a big issue for her. She’s always had trouble drinking enough, nevertheless This specific’s even more important to do so during treatment. She actually wore 10 bracelets on one arm, and also also also moved them over to the various other arm as she drank a cup of water so she had a visual reminder that will she needed to drink water.
Fatigue is actually a problem during treatment, too, nevertheless Lunden suggested trying to schedule light activities like a walk with friends from the morning. “This specific’s easy to stay in bed and also also also think about your symptoms and also also also make yourself feel worse. Try to get up and also also also do something. Try to stay engaged in life and also also also hold on to normalcy,” she said.
nevertheless most of all, Lunden advised learning as much as you can about your particular cancer. “Breast cancer isn’t just one disease,” she said. “The more you know, the better you understand what’s going on.”
Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
SOURCES: Joan Lunden, former television host; Marilyn Leroy-Sterling, NP-C, health and also also also wellness coordinator, Cancer Treatment and also also also Wellness Center, Northern Westchester Hospital, Mount Kisco, N.Y.
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