Surviving Breast Cancer: What the Head of Cheddar News Wishes She Knew When She was Diagnosed
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and according to the American Cancer Society, this year more than 287,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with the life-changing disease. Cheddar News' General Manager Kristin Malaspina is a survivor and hopes her experience can help others as they face down this difficult diagnosis.
A first-time diagnosis of any disease can be a traumatic experience and for Malaspina, it would have been helpful to have a clearer understanding of what was to come. She provided insight into how she navigated her diagnosis and treatment with hopes that her experience will make it easier for the next woman who finds herself in a similar position.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: What are some things you wish you had known prior to getting the breast cancer diagnosis and going through treatment?
Malaspina: "I wish I would have had more people to reach out to because I think the best advice comes from people who have had it. The more people you have available to ask questions to — who have had it — the easier it is. Your doctors are trying to keep you alive, [but they don't know what it's like to experience the side effects of treatment]. Asking friends or people who have gone through it, I found, was the most helpful. All of the things you have to go through, it's a lot. I also would have been a little less stressed [about other things] my whole life because at the end of the day, [being diagnosed and treated] is stressful and everything else feels irrelevant.
Q: Were you surprised by anything after your diagnosis and while seeking treatment?
Malaspina: "One thing that surprised me was anytime you asked [doctors] a question, they would always say, 'Everybody is different,' so they don't really have exact answers for you, which is really hard. I'm a person who, if you tell me exactly what to do, I will do it, and you expect [a certain] outcome, but so many things happen to you. Their answer is, 'Everybody is different.' Like I said, they don't really have the exact answer."
Q: What were some go-to products you used to help you cope with the side effects of treatment?
Malaspina: "Lots of green juices because your body is inflamed, so everything is about cooling your body down. I did lots of acupuncture. And then there were a lot of products because your head is so sensitive. And I used clean beauty products because I tried to avoid chemicals to help alleviate the inflammation. The [treatment] inflames your body to kill what's out there, but in the meantime you get all of these crazy things happening to you.
EMBR Wave Bracelet
The bracelet is designed to help the body regulate hot and cold flashes. In treatment, the body goes through a wide range of temperatures, often making a patient experience intense waves of heat or cold. While the bracelet cannot stop those waves, Malaspina found it helped regulate her body temperature and seemed to reduce how long the discomfort lasted.
During treatment, breast cancer patients often report general pain, joint pain, trouble sleeping, and skin flushing. Acupuncture patients seek out the treatment to try to stimulate the nervous system and chemicals that help speed up healing.
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