Breast cancer part four: What to expect after a diagnosis

Author: , Reporter, JFarris@wfmz.com
Published: Oct 15 2012 08:00:00 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 17 2012 12:48:39 PM EDT

You're diagnosed with breast cancer.  Now what?

It's a question 200,000 women face every year.

When a woman gets a breast cancer diagnosis, there is so much information coming at her that at first everything is a blur.

Here is an example of what you you can expect after diagnosis.

A breast cancer diagnosis sets in motion a range of feelings for a woman and her family.

"It can be anywhere from shock, disbelief, anger, denial, 'why me?', 'why is this happening to me?', 'I did all the right things?'," said Ulla Martz,Lehigh Valley Health Network cancer social worker.

For that reason, breast health providers include intensive therapy and support for women battling the disease on every level.

The first step is treatment, depending on the stage of the cancer.

A team of medical professionals chart out a complete course of action.

Chrissy Gieringer is still receiving radiation following months of chemo and a double mastectomy.

But surgery options range from a lumpectomy or a partial removal of the breast, to a single or double mastectomy.

The side effects of these treatments can result in hair loss, nausea, fatigue.

The severity varies from person-to-person and is dependent on the type and length of treatment.

For many women, part of the treatment process includes reconstruction.

"I could show you pictures of breasts that you would not be able to tell that they are not real," said Dr. Randolph Wojcik, LVHN reconstructive surgeon.

Medical experts say therapy can also play a key role in deciding to have reconstructive surgery.

"For the newly diagnosed woman to meet with someone who has gone through it before and see what the results are and that is very reassuring to do," said Martz.

There are also support groups for children, spouses and friends of those battling breast cancer.

The federal government requires insurance companies to cover the cost of reconstruction.

For more information, go to the Lehigh Valley Health Network website.