What Advice Would You Give A Woman Beginning Her Battle With Breast Cancer?

Dr. Harness talks about how he approaches women who have just been diagnosed with breast cancer. This is just one segment from our Wisdom From Survivors Google+ Hangout on Oct. 15.

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Jay K. Harness, MD: Patients come in, my analogy is ‘the deer and the headlights’ – they are scared to death and so as you have heard me say before, one of the things that’s just really critically important is to literally embrace the patients. As I have said before, I am a big hugger, but to also give really reliable information, and so those initial few visits the patients go through are some of the most difficult.

There had been a really hard time hearing us. We have to remind our patients that breast cancer is a huge galaxy of diseases from the least of malignant in the in-situ cancers, all the way over to as Darryle said, Stage-3, or even worse. And so it’s gathering information, it’s trying to settle things down and at my hospital in Orange, California – St. Joseph Hospital, we begin to embrace the patients not only by myself as a surgeon but also by our navigator, and our navigator then is the key person to get people at the appropriate time into the hands of advocates, into support groups.

And so the advocacy movement is hugely important to me to help our patients feel, if you will, empowered as they begin this journey.

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