Frequently Asked Questions
Our social workers, registered nurses, art therapists, dietitian and trained volunteers are there every step of the way for clients with and survivors of breast cancer, and receive numerous questions. Here are just a few of the most frequently asked questions.
- Q. I'm newly diagnosed, what should I do?
- A. Learn as much as you can about your particular diagnosis and treatment options. And don't feel pressured to make a rash decision. Ask for help and guidance from your doctor or our support staff at CancerLink. Remember that it's not your fault that you have breast cancer - there is no known way to completely prevent breast cancer. Thousands of women today are LIVING with breast cancer - so can you.
- Q. My friend or family member was just diagnosed, what can I do?
- A. Your friend or loved one will be making some difficult decisions, feeling anxious and overwhelmed, possibly going through some rigorous treatments - having an ear of compassion can help a lot. Try not to give advice unless they ask for your opinion. You should avoid suggesting unproven remedies that are not part of the treatment plan, and seek professional guidance wherever possible. You can help with daily errands like cooking or doing laundry - these simple things can make a big difference to alleviating your friend or family's burden. If you are concerned about the person living with cancer and would like information about how to care for them, proper nutrition and coping with treatment, contact one of our professional staff at CancerLink, a FREE service of Hong Kong Cancer Fund.
- Q. Should I tell my children about my cancer?
- A. Yes. It's important your child understands your illness and why there may be changes in your mood, physical appearance and normal routine. Keeping your diagnosis hidden from your child/children creates unnecessary anxiety and misunderstanding. Hong Kong Cancer Fund has a special service to help children cope when cancer affects the family; it's called the Rainbow Club. Please call us on 3667 3000 to learn how to better communicate with your children and to receive FREE professional support to help the whole family cope when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer.
- Q. I have just been diagnosed with breast cancer but I am worried about the side effects of chemotherapy.
Will I be able to handle it?
- A. It is natural to be worried about side effects. You may have heard negative stories about chemotherapy, but try not to listen as everyone is different and reacts differently. Chemotherapy drugs are constantly being improved to give you the best possible result and to reduce side effects. If you do experience side effects, inform your doctor because they can usually be safely prevented or controlled.
- Q. How can hormone therapy help treat my breast cancer?
- A. Around 30 to 50 per cent of breast cancers carry a special target called the estrogen receptor. These tumours sometimes respond to hormone therapy, which helps to block the estrogen receptors altogether or reduce estrogen in the body. In contrast to chemotherapy, it offers benefits such as minimal toxicity and prolonged effectiveness.
- Q. I have been diagnosed with breast cancer and will start treatment soon. Are there any foods I should avoid?
- A. A balanced diet is important for clients with and survivors of breast cancer. However dietary requirements differ for each person. We recommend you consult your oncologist, Chinese medicine practitioner or dietitian for advice regarding your health.
- Q. How can I prevent lymphoedema?
- A. Lymphoedema is a common side effect of breast cancer treatment. If you have had radiotherapy in the groin or armpit area, or surgery to have lymph nodes removed, you have an increased risk of developing lymphoedema. You can help prevent lymphoedema by avoiding strain on your lymphatic system. This means you should try to avoid infection or inflammation in the treated area. Look after your skin. Try and avoid cuts or grazes if at all possible. For more information, you can access our Lymphoedema booklet here.
- Q. I have to undergo chemotherapy; will it make my hair fall out?
- A. The loss of hair is only one of the temporary side effects of chemotherapy. Hair loss and other side effects of chemotherapy depend on the types of drugs administered, their dosage, and the length of treatment. Some women experience few if any adverse effects from drug treatment. For women who experience alopecia, hair loss usually begins weeks after chemotherapy has begun. In most cases, the hair will regrow after chemotherapy has ended.
If you have any questions call us on 3667 3000