“Is there anything I can do to help you? Maybe take the kids out for a few hours?” Those are the types of things that can really help. What you don’t want to say to a (breast) cancer patient is “How are you feeling today?”
When Stacy Costa was 18 and her aunt, age 31, was diagnosed with breast cancer, she remembers thinking to herself that she was going to get cancer too.
“It was just a feeling because four people on my mom’s side had cancer,” said Costa.Knowing her family history, Costa stayed conscious of her breast health and very self-aware of what felt normal and what did not. Part of that included performing routine self-exams. It was one of those routine self-exams that told her a lump in her breast was different and it shouldn’t hurt to touch. She acted quickly and called her family doctor.
It started with an ultrasound and moved onto the radiology department where she had a mammogram screening and was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Upon receiving the diagnosis Costa reached out to her mother, a former nurse and pharmaceutical representative, who put her in touch with Community Breast Care Center.
“I made the call to Community and got in quickly,” said Costa. “I asked my mom to come with me, not so much because she was my mom, but because she could translate all the medical-speak. But Dr. Goulet (breast surgeon) spoke to me so plainly that I didn’t need to worry. He was so good at giving me all the information and letting me take time to make decisions.”
Costa said she wasn’t surprised by her diagnosis and that she would need surgery and chemotherapy. But she did wonder if the family history was a factor, so Dr. Goulet did a gene test. “I really thought the BRAC test would come back positive showing a link between myself and my aunt, but it was negative,” said Costa, “It seems like we all want to make sense of cancer, but it doesn’t make sense, so you can’t waste your energy on that. I focused on me – getting healthier – and my family, my husband and my two children.”
Dwelling on her diagnosis and treatment was not what helped her through her journey. She says that it was the little things that led her to recovery from breast cancer.
“Positivity was part of my everyday routine. Only two people ever saw me have negative thoughts, my husband and my mom," said Costa. “My mom let me have a bad day, but for only a day, and then she’d say 'Stac, get up and get moving!'”.
To learn more about genetic testing at Community Health Network, visit our website or call the genetic counseling hotline at 317-621-8988.