Breast Cancer Patients on Coping with Recurrence

Women who have experienced a breast cancer recurrence tell you how to cope — and hope.

By Ginny Graves

They Can Be There for You Emotionally Too

"I believe it’s the doctor’s job to band together with the patient, both physically and emotionally, to get them through the experience," says Julie Gralow, MD, associate professor of medical oncology at the University of Washington in Seattle. "I cheer with patients when they have a good scan and cry when they have a bad result."

They Hate Statistics

"Patients always want to know how long they have, but people are not statistics and cancer doesn’t read the textbooks," says Jennifer Griggs, MD, MPH, a medical oncologist at the University of Michigan. "It’s helpful to have guidelines, but there’s no good way to predict how an individual woman or an individual tumor will respond to treatment."

They Admire Their Patients

"It’s such a privilege taking care of people with stage IV disease," Griggs says. "It brings both of us to our knees, but I’m always in awe of how well my patients handle it. Most women are way stronger than they think they are."

Originally published in MORE magazine, October 2007.

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