Living With Breast Cancer – Dr. Jennifer Shin
Raising awareness of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer
As you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Almost everyone will be touched at some point by a breast cancer diagnosis – either personally, or through a loved one. My listeners may not know that I recently experienced my own cancer scare with metastatic melanoma of the nodular kind – a serious condition that is often deadly. In my case, however, it was a wonderful experience because I had to deal with the fact that I may be what we call “dying.” I’m pleased to say that I rose to the challenge by reminding myself that there really is only now – there is no future and there is no past. I am now cancer-free, but the experience reminded me that we are all living on borrowed time.
Awareness is a crucial component of raising consciousness, and sometimes it takes a serious wake-up call to motivate a positive change of mind. I recently spoke with Dr. Jennifer Shin, a medical oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, specializing in the care of patients with breast cancer. Dr. Shin has just co-authored Living with Breast Cancer: The Step-by-Step Guide to Minimizing Side Effects and Maximizing Quality of Life, which provides a great service for anyone looking to raise their consciousness around this topic, or any potentially terminal diagnosis.
“Palliative care is, in a nutshell, helping people to live well when they have a serious diagnosis like cancer.” – Dr. Jennifer Shin
Dr. Shin is also a palliative medicine physician and the co-director of the MGH Palliative Care Outpatient Clinic. As the first dual-trained oncologist and palliative care clinician at MGH, she leverages her clinical skills and perspectives to bring innovative approaches to improve treatment, quality of life, and outcomes in total cancer care. She enjoys teaching residents and fellows and oversees the palliative care education for the internal medicine residents at MGH.
Her book encompasses the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, supportive care of symptoms from cancer and cancer therapies, and coping with cancer through the progression of cancer and the end of life.
As a practicing breast oncologist and palliative care physician, she finds great joy in working with and learning from her patients and colleagues. She is inspired by her patients who allow her to accompany them on their journey toward finding a renewed sense of meaning and hope.
I hope this interview will find its way to the listeners who need it most, and I encourage you to share it with others who could benefit from this awareness.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
My introduction to cancer through metastatic melanoma
The positive aspects of the cancer diagnosis - Living with the belief that I was on my way to another place.
What is palliative care? Helping people feel well at the end of life
The interdisciplinary functions of palliative care
What happens following a breast cancer diagnosis?
Answering the hard questions: Am I going to die?
How can we get rid of it?
The stages of cancer, and what they mean for survival
How optimal screening and removal decisions are made
The low risks of radiation imaging procedures
The treatment paths for different stages.
When to do chemotherapy vs. surgery.
Considerations around mastectomies – why can’t you just cut the cancer out?
How common is breast cancer and what causes it?
Managing the unwanted complications of breast cancer treatment
Managing depression, preventative factors, exercise and weight loss
Empowering people through education.
Links and references:
Living with Breast Cancer: The Step-by-Step Guide to Minimizing Side Effects and Maximizing Quality of Life by Dr. Jennifer Shin, et al.
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