The Best Breast Cancer Advice

Breast Cancer, Featured Article, Healthy Living, Women's Health
on October 10, 2011
Think Stock

What I learned:“Among the many side effects of chemotherapy is indigestion,” says Teresa Rhyne, who blogs at “It sounds trivial when compared to the other side effects, but it's not so trivial when that elephant sits on your chest in the middle of the night.”

What I recommend:“My father is a chiropractor who is big on natural healing. When I mentioned the indigestion to him he gave me the simplest, most effective solution,” says Teresa. “He recommended mixing a tablespoon of baking soda into a glass of water and drink up! It's that easy and you'll get immediate relief. You'll burp like a sailor, but the relief is worth it.”

Teresa Rhyne is a lawyer, writer and breast cancer survivor. Her beagle, Seamus the Famous, is also a cancer survivor. Her memoir, The Dog Lived (and So Will I)will be published in October, 2012 by Sourcebooks. She blogs at


What I learned: “Losing your hair is not as big a deal as I thought it would be,” says Marcy Bruch, who blogs at “Also, losing both breasts isn't the big deal I thought it would be either. When reconstruction is finally done, everything looks as good—or better—than it used to.”

What I recommend: Marcy recommends looking up “before” and “after” pictures on the Internet or at your plastic surgeon’s office. “I would read these ‘Dealing With Cancer’ magazines in my oncologist's office, and it helped to read and see pictures of women wearing low-cut dresses after breast reconstruction, gushing about how happy they were with the end results of their reconstruction surgery. Also, ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures on the Internet and from my plastic surgeon made me feel better about the final outcome.” 

Marcy Bruch is a Stage 3 breast cancer survivor who shares tips for fighting breast cancer with grace, humor and style. You can follow her blog at


What I learned: “A year after my breast cancer treatment in 1996, I developed lymphedema in my left arm,” says Jan Hasak, a two-time breast cancer survivor, of the blockage in the lymphatic system that prevents lymph fluid from draining, causing pain and swelling. “The surgeon convinced me the risk was minimal and provided no precautions.” Having received extensive treatment for the lymphedema, Jan now takes extreme caution with her affected arm, wearing a compression sleeve and avoiding skin trauma and heavy lifting with her affected arm.

What I recommend: Jan suggests that a person newly diagnosed with breast cancer can reduce the risk of lymphedema by educating themselves via the free literature available at the hospital or the National Lymphedema Network as well as at

A retired patent attorney and two-time breast cancer survivor, Jan Hasak has authored two books on her medical journey: Mourning Has Broken: Reflections on Surviving Cancerand The Pebble Path: Returning home from a forest of shadows.  She has spoken at various cancer-related events including Relay for Life and maintains a blog “Mourning Has Broken” to address cancer-related issues. More information can be found at


What I learned:“I was a 37 and pregnant with my fifth child when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. One thing I regret, five years later, is that I have no photos of me during this time period … no photos of me and my kids or even my newborn,” says Tammy Winstead, who blogs at “I believe it is important for me to embrace this fight as it is part of what made me who I am today. Cancer doesn’t define me, but it certainly touched me and changed my life. So why not look back at your cancer journey and celebrate each step that made you into the strong woman you are today? It sure would be easier to do with a journal and photos.”

What I recommend: “If you’re facing cancer treatment, I suggest journaling, documenting, starting a blog and taking photos,” Tammy says. “You may not want to look at them right away, but eventually you will and you will be glad you have them. I promise! This is just another part of your life that will determine what makes you you. And if you are afraid you won’t survive the fight, take them anyway. Your loved ones will be very happy you did.”

Tammy Winstead is a five-year breast cancer survivor. She is a Kindle-loving, foodie, blogging, book-reviewing, cancer-surviving, artsy, Christian, frugal, working mom of 6, blogging at


What I learned: “I was surprised to learn that a lot of breast cancer patients who have ‘frozen shoulder’ … difficulty moving their shoulders … get better between year one and two,” says Suzanne Harp, who blogs at “I thought I was going to not have mobility forever.”

What I recommend: “When you are diagnosed, get yourself to a support group,” Suzanne advises. “When I think of my time of diagnosis and treatment, I was in a sheer free-falling panic until I went to a support group. Also I love the book Cancer Vixen! It made me feel less alone … it was like my security blanket.”

Suzanne Harp is a broadcast journalist and breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed at the age of 42. Just the year before she was married to her husband Ethan, who really earned his hubby merit badges quickly. She blogs at


What I learned: “When you are going through chemo treatment, it usually takes 48 hours for the chemo to hit you head-on, and that's when the nausea and exhaustion kicks you in the face,” says Marcy Bruch, who blogs at

What I recommend:“I took my chemo on Wednesdays so I could recover on the weekend,” explains Marcy. “Figure out your nausea times during chemo and stick close to home. Camp out on the couch for two days. And always have crystallized ginger and your anti-nausea meds on-hand to get you through.”

Marcy Bruch is a Stage 3 breast cancer survivor who shares tips for fighting breast cancer with grace, humor and style. You can follow her blog at


What I learned:

When Katie Hall was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 41, she was overwhelmed by her emotions and had a difficult time processing them all. “I was angry, sad, confused and most of all, scared … I was stunned into silence,” Katie says. “I didn't know where to begin, but the more I was silent, the bigger the monsters in my head became.  

“Four or five weeks after my diagnosis, I grabbed my dusty journal and wrote out all of my worst fears … my kids growing up without a mother, my husband growing old alone. I cried, but putting it all down on paper created some order in my own personal chaos, tamed my monsters a bit. I only wish I would have picked up my pen and journal earlier.”

What I recommend: “I think keeping a written chronicle is crucial, via journal or a blog. It has helped me to keep the big and small stuff in perspective; and I have a great record of what my year in treatment was really like.”      

Katie Ford Hall is a writer who blogs at She lives outside of Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and two children.