I remember the day I received the call advising me that my mammogram results required further testing. I had received similar calls before, but those calls had merely requested I get an ultrasound to further investigate an area not clear on the films. Since I had dense breasts, I was very familiar with this routine, and previously the findings had all been benign. However, this time the tone was different. My OBGYN was requesting that I see a breast surgeon right away for a biopsy. I can recall the exact date and time of that call and the dreadful feeling like a “deer in the headlights”.
My gynecologist suggested a local surgeon, but with Dana Farber Breast Oncology Center a mere one and a half hours away, I decided to seek a second opinion. Would you ever buy a car without shopping around? This is probably one of the most important decisions of your life, if not the most important and one opinion is not enough. Don’t allow yourself to panic and just rush into making decisions.
In my case, my second opinion would prove to be life-saving. My original diagnosis was DCIS (ductal, non-invasive breast cancer) in my right breast. The additional testing ordered at my Dana Farber consultation revealed a nearly 2 cm invasive tumor in my left breast. Had I merely followed the original diagnosis plan, the more dangerous cancer would have gone undetected.
I have spoken to many women in treatment and the unfortunate fact is that second opinions are not often recommended by medical staff. Since a referral is needed, some women feel disloyal to their doctor if they question his/her opinion. The truth is this may prove to be a matter of life and death. Think about it, if you wouldn’t buy a car without a second opinion, why wouldn’t you be just as diligent with your health.
I have learned that doctors are not Gods, they can make mistakes; they are merely human. It’s not fair to both them and you to hold a single diagnosis responsible for your treatment plan and outcome. The best outcomes happen when medical teams are treated as partners, and not as infallible Gods. Seek as much information as possible from as many sources as possible.
When you have done all this…you will have no regrets. It’s the best you can do and no matter what happens, you’ll feel confident that you did everything possible. The old adage, “Two heads are better than one” could not be more true.