Best Online Resources While Going Through Breast Cancer Treatment
Suspecting bad news is harder to bear than knowing it outright. When we are concerned about our health, we need reliable answers, and caring people.
Now and then we notice an unusual symptom in our body and when we do, often our first impulse is to search the internet for ideas on what’s going on and what to do about it. You’re far from alone. As a matter of fact, a Pew Research Center study shows that around 80% of internet users look to the web for health information.
Yet it’s hard to discern which sources to rely on in the massive online world: a Google search on “breast cancer” yields approximately 384,000,000 results, and content is being added every single day. In a sea of suggestions, recommendations, studies and experts, it’s hard to know where to turn and who to trust when you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer.
There is reliable, practical content on the web, however, that can help you navigate your diagnosis from your first symptom all the way through to your recovery. There are places that can help you learn more about the disease, places to ask questions, places to read about others’ experiences and so much more, you just have to know where to look.
Our goal in this guide is to help narrow your search help you find the best online resources that are available. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Finding Information on your Symptoms
- Doctors and Treatment Centers
- Mobile Apps
Disclaimer: The web can be an invaluable source of information for you, but recognize that even the best resources have their limitations. The best place to learn more about your diagnosis, symptoms and what to expect throughout your treatment is by talking with your doctor.
Finding information on your symptoms
When you first find something unusual in your body or you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s very easy to want to sit down at your computer, type in a few keywords and let the Internet provide you with information.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing to do, but knowing which resources are worth your time is essential in ensuring that you’re getting factual, scientifically-based information.
Our Top Pick
IMAGE – Breastcancer.org
Breastcancer.org goes the extra mile to provide in-depth expert information to meet breast cancer patients’ needs. Breast oncologist Marisa C. Weiss M.D. founded the website in 2000 and now serves as chief medical officer, and more than 20 million people visit online each year. This is an excellent source for a wealth of information.
Other Good Resources:
Healthline.com offers many articles on breast cancer topics in “A Comprehensive Guide to Breast Cancer.”
American Cancer Society was founded in 1913 in New York City, when very little was known about cancer. “On a mission to free the world from cancer,” they provide expert information, support and services for patients, and do fundraising to fuel programs and back cancer research. If you want to learn the basics of breast cancer, their website has a clear and easy guide to understanding breast cancer risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment options.
Doctors & Treatment Centers
Finding a doctor who will walk with you through every step of your breast cancer treatment is incredibly important. But, in the world of digital marketing, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with options and tough to know who exactly to trust. One of the best ways is to first check the physicians that are in-network with your insurance provider. Nearly every insurance company will have a network of doctors on their website that are in your area and accept your insurance.
Second, several places online compile lists of trusted, high-quality doctors that you can search by your location. Here are a few that you should reference:
Our Top Pick
When considering breast cancer surgery of any kind, we recommend that you begin your search with our hospital and surgeon finder. This is a helpful resource that compiles all the Hiddn Scar certified surgeons or hospitals in your local area. Doctors must qualify and be certified in the Hidden Scar procedure in order to be included in the finder.
Other Good Resources
• Once you have a list of potential doctors you would like to visit, consider searching for them on the following review platforms. These platforms are trusted in the industry, not easily manipulated and typically have pretty stringent review processes:
ProPublica: In the past several years, ProPublica released a project called Vital Signs which has attempted to shed some light on a historically complex system. This database complies result and performance data on over 1,300,000 health care providers. You can search for your physician’s name, scan the list returned for your doctor and their city, then select them for specific data.
• National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) offers more insight on choosing your doctors.
• U.S. News & World Report annually publishes an evaluation and ranking of hospitals that treat adult cancer patients. They rank the 50 top-scoring hospitals and then list other high performing facilities. Check to see how (or if) your nearest hospital is ranked by their standards.
More than 40,000 mobile applications target healthcare issues. Hundreds specifically address breast cancer. A survey by researchers of 599 breast cancer mobile applications found “that most have been developed with little medical criteria,” and their value was unclear. Caution is needed.
Here we will look at some mobile apps that are considered helpful. Don’t forget to read user policies before you decide to download any apps to your devices.
Our Top Pick
My Breast Cancer Coach App from Genomic Health, Inc., is popular for helping keep track of diagnosis information, appointments, journaling and much more. This earned 4.8 stars among 99 reviewers on the App Store. The starting point is on the breastcancer.org website (they partner with Genomic Health on this) with their My Breast Cancer Coach questionnaire.
If you only used one app while being treated, My Breast Cancer Coach app might be the most helpful. Keeping track of medical information is doubly difficult when dealing with the emotions of illness.
Other Good Resources
- Healthline.com published “Best Breast Cancer Apps of 2019,” by Jessica Timmons, and among the apps she highlighted, we especially like CareZone, the medication management app that family members can share. Over 15,000 reviewers have rated the app at the iPhone App Store with 4.6 out of 5 stars.
- For the serious scholar who wants a much deeper understanding of medical developments, we recommend starting with MedScape app that targets doctors and medical students. You can use this to get breaking medical news on your chosen topics.
- b-Well developed by the University of Sussex provides exercises for breast cancer patients to help reduce upper-limb dysfunction (ULD) following breast cancer surgery. Early testing in this app study was positive. Rated 3.8 stars by nine reviewers on Google Play store.
- Following breast cancer treatment, MyFitnessPal can help point you to a healthier lifestyle by tracking nutrition and fitness.
- CaringBridge is a personal health journal that helps people stay in touch with friends and share health needs, and also receive regular encouragement.
Be sure and check reviews on any new breast cancer apps you find, lest a poorly designed app should waste your time or misguide your recovery.
No need to go it alone! Breast cancer patients often find a caring group of women who generously share online their insights on their cancer experiences and speak up to encourage women new to treatment.
Just as your specific diagnosis and breast cancer subtype determine the type of treatment you will follow, in the same way your age, interests, and situation in life will affect the type of community you choose during treatment and beyond. Here are some excellent options for joining the conversation about breast cancer and also finding some caring support.
- Share Cancer Support is a platform to share information and personal stories about breast and ovarian cancer. Support groups are offered.
- The Community page at breastcancer.org has an online discussion forum that boasts over 222,000 members. Here, users can benefit from shared knowledge on a vast range of relevant topics and join in conversation with other patients. There are even specific communities dedicated to helping you find women that are going through treatment at the same time as you, allowing you to bond and connect with one another as you walk through breast cancer together.
- Young Survival Coalition focuses on young women going through breast cancer, and offers support through education, discussion boards, online chat groups, meet-in-person gatherings, conferences and other events.
Reddit is home to lots of conversation on breast cancer. Look up Reddit’s breast cancer forum.
Breast Cancer Research
Research has dramatically improved the care and health of breast cancer patients in recent years. Researchers are looking for ways to reduce side effects from treatment and to enhance recovery and longevity. They are investigating the causes of breast cancer, and more is known each year. We recommend reading what these organizations have to say on the role of genetics and environmental factors in breast cancer, and the newest treatment options.
Our Top Pick
We are most impressed with Breast Cancer Research Foundation because they are supporting scientific research on breast cancer around the world. They have excellent ratings from CharityWatch and GuideStar USA, and they strive to be efficient with every dollar, having raised over half a billion dollars for research.
Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) was founded by Evelyn Lauder and others in 1993, years after her own breast cancer diagnosis. The organization focuses on research for breast cancer treatment and eradication. Through the Lauder family business, The Estèe Lauder Companies, the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign began using pink ribbons (idea shares credit with Alexandra Penney, then editor of SELF) to significantly increase public engagement.
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners seeks to find scientific ways to reduce cancer by eliminating its causes. They look at environmental toxins as potential suspects. One facet of the organization is Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. See bcpp.org.
Talk To Your Doctor
In the end, the Internet can provide an endless supply of information. Much of it can be helpful, but it can be difficult to know what information is helpful and what isn’t simply by a search or two.
It is far, far better for you to discuss any questions or concerns you have with your doctor. They have a far deeper understanding of you and your health than a website ever will. So trust and be open with them throughout the course of your treatment.
Also, look for opportunities to talk with other breast cancer survivors. 1 out of every 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer, so it is more than likely there is someone in your circle of friends and family that has been through it before. Lean on them for support, guidance and advice as you navigate your own breast cancer journey.
As you move from diagnosis to recovery, we wish you every encouragement and support on your journey to better health.
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