Does it Ever Get Easier?

Dr Rosenberg

By: Anne L. Rosenberg, MD, FACS ; Clinical Professor in Surgery, Jefferson Medical College, Kimmel Cancer Center; Attending surgeon at Cooper University Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center

As we start 2014, there is always a moment to pause and reflect. Hard to believe that I have been treating women with breast cancer for almost 28 years, more than half of my life. Through thick and thin for me, and the women I work with! The treatment of breast cancer has changed dramatically, with most women saving their breast and having access to treatment information so they are armed for the process. There are support groups and chat rooms so women who might have been alone do not need to be.

When my father treated breast cancer, in the 1960’s, it was mastectomy without reconstruction, no discussion.

Fast forward… so last week a 44- year-old women came in for her follow-up appointment with her husband and 3- year-old daughter. Only two weeks earlier, she had found a lump that proved to be a small cancer. We had a few conferences with her and her husband, arranged for the necessary testing and consultations with other oncologists and proceeded with her lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy. She was focused and positive, and, of course, anxious.

When they arrived for the post-operative visit, their daughter hopped onto the table so she could be examined. She held her mother’s hand while I checked her incisions and then her husband said… “this wasn’t as bad as we expected!”

I guess, although your world changes the minute you hear the diagnosis, the process can get easier…. Lean on those around you, it will get easier….


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