Reconstruction: Not for the Faint of Heart

By Kristen Knott

Written April 3, 2014

It was 13 days ago that I underwent surgery again, a left prophylactic mastectomy and the beginning of bi-lateral reconstruction surgery. It has been a very long two weeks filled with pain, discomfort, and a lot of focused breathing and stillness.

The day before my surgery I felt like the old me, running around getting last minute errands done. Trying to organize the house and my work in a way that would ensure order without my involvement over the coming weeks. You know – doing those jobs you never want to do, filing the mail, cleaning out the crisper, organizing the house clutter – thankless jobs.

On top of the Cinderella chores I had an appointment at Juravinski with my oncologist. This appointment was my three-month check in on my response to Tamoxifen. When my Dad and I walked into Juravinski that morning I didn’t feel like a patient anymore. I felt different.  What I did feel though was dread deep in the pit of my belly. I knew the following day I was going back into patient mode. My strength and health that I had fought so hard to get back was well on the way, and now I was [...] continue the story

But You Said I Wouldn’t Need Radiation

Abstract

Summary: Participatory care for breast cancer patients requires doctors to do more than simply tell patients about their diagnoses. It’s about communicating effectively so that patients can comprehend complex medical information, make informed treatment decisions, and feel hopeful about the future. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, the average patient consults with as many as six different physicians about a care plan.[¹] The most effective practitioners use patient-centered communication to encourage patients to participate in their care and to reduce hopelessness.[²] Breast cancer survivor and communication skills trainer Stephanie Roberson Barnard tackles this important subject with a personal essay comparing post-mastectomy appointments with two different physicians. Both physicians interpreted the same results, but the first doctor’s communication style left Stephanie anxious and bereft, while the second doctor’s communication style helped her feel informed and hopeful.

Keywords: Breast cancer, patient-centered communication, doctor-patient communication, patient participation.

Citation: Barnard SR. But you said i wouldn’t need radiation. J Participat Med. 2014 Feb 28; 6:e4.

Published: February 28, 2014.

Competing Interests: The author has declared that no competing interests exist.

Disclaimer: The names of providers have been changed for this article. The Waiting Game When my husband, David, and I arrive at the General Surgeon Dr. Alberts’s office for our appointment, [...] continue the story

How to Be?

By Kristen Knott

Written February 2, 2014

Now a month into 2014 and the hair on my head is slowly coming back, my eyebrows are reappearing, and I can even see some eyelashes growing. It will probably be another month until I can ditch the wig, hat and scarves. My energy is quite good during the day, in fact at times I feel like the old me, the me before cancer. Yet the evening comes and I am smothered in fatigue again.

I look around my house and I see the differences, they are likely subtle to others, but to me they are profound. The one room that has completely been ignored is my office, as it hadn’t been addressed since the spring. Mail has piled up and needs filing, calendars still read May 2013 and the Juravinski patient handouts were frontline and center on my desk. The room looks like time stopped when I was diagnosed June 6th. I slowly organize the clutter and discard the one-inch thick “welcome to chemotherapy booklet “ that lists all the side effect information that I needed during my August to December therapy. It feels odd throwing it out, yet a part of me feels like [...] continue the story

Blueprint for a Cancer Free Life?

By Kristen Knott

Written January 4, 2014

I have spent the last few days with my nose in a book. This is not unlike me as I have always been a bit of a bulimic reader. I can lose myself in a good book and ignore the world around me and then when I am done I need some time before I can commit to losing myself in another. The binge/purge cycle ensues. I enjoy marinating in what I have just read, especially when it involves an intriguing character or new world, or country. I felt ready to read about cancer, or better put, books on how to keep cancer at bay. What is different about reading these books is that they have not provided me with that feeling of satisfaction or sense of escape, in fact they have left me unsettled.

Clearly there is not a simple blueprint for remaining cancer free and there seems to be a plethora of experts on living a cancer free life. (I am also learning that even people in my life have advice on warding off cancer.) What I truly know though is that being healthy, truly healthy that is, will be a life changing endeavor [...] continue the story

Big Red Bow

By Kristen Knott

Written @ 7:30 am  December 24, 2013

I lie here quietly trying not to disrupt my husband as he sleeps beside me. It is Christmas Eve day and the house remains quiet. The day will be filled with anticipation, excitement and preparation for Christmas tomorrow.

It doesn’t feel truly like Christmas to me yet however. Hoping the day will bring that magical feeling of contentment and joy that I equate with holiday spirit.

My energy is coming back as is my hair. I have fuzz growing all over my bald head. I am starting to feel a little like the old me. In fact I slip back into my old ways of wanting to conquer the world in a day and then fatigue snaps me back into place. I then succumb to being still and slowing down.

My brain is still quite foggy, I have to really concentrate and focus. The kids are all too familiar with my forgetfulness and my youngest says, ‘oh mommy it’s that chemo brain again isn’t it?’  Amazing how we have all just got used to my bald presence, my ever-changing moods, from weepy to impatience to very raw and messy moments.

I thank my family for loving me [...] continue the story

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