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Martina Navratilova Live Online Chat About Breast Cancer

Read a transcript of the chat with Martina Navratilova and Dr. Julie Silver about Martina's breast cancer diagnosis

Comment from Mary: Dr. Silver, are there supplements or foods that we should be staying away from during cancer treatments? I was told to avoid soy, green tea, and St. John's Wort.

Dr. Silver: Soy is controversial, especially in women with estrogen receptor positive tumors. It's best not to overdo it with soy, but a little is not a major concern. St. John's Wort may interfere with prescription meds, so be careful.

Comment from Lucretia: Martina, many lesbians of our generation were less likely to have children. I believe it is said women who don't have children are more likely to get breast cancer. Are you aware of a higher rate of breast cancer within lesbian communities?

Navratilova: I don't know the numbers exactly but I think lesbians are less likely to go to the gynecologist for a check-up which then means the cancer is detected at a later stage.

Comment from Stacey: Martina, was there a particular thought or mantra that kept you motivated and hopeful during your treatment?

Dr. Silver: One woman told me, "I am Hope, Grace and Mercy walking." I love that mantra!

Navratilova: I had seven friends with me for my lumpectomy—accepting physical and emotional support is essential for recovery. The tougher part for me will be the radiation course. I will let you know what will have been more helpful.

Dr. Silver: Women often have a hard time accepting help. We like to nurture others. But the more we let others nurture us when we are ill, the more we can nurture others when we feel better.

Comment from Melissa: Dr. Silver, I am 17 months post chemo/post surgery. Is there any resources out there to help after treatment is over?

Dr. Silver: I wrote an entire book on this titled After Cancer Treatment: Heal Faster, Better, Stronger. My work is very much focused on helping cancer survivors to heal as well as possible. This is an important, but underserved, area of medicine.

Comment from Hope: Went through radiation and lumpectomy. I get occasional muscle cramp/spasm when reaching for something or stretching which happens to be on same side where surgery was done—is this a side effect and how can I get rid of cramping? Muscle strengthening?

Dr. Silver: Hope, a lot of women live with after effects of cancer treatment. Are you worried about cancer recurrence with the pain? A lot of people worry this means that their cancer is back. Very often, this is a straightforward oncology rehabilitation issue. Physical therapy can help a lot. So can other interventions. Treating your function and pain is important. I want you to heal as well as possible!

Comment from Jan: I was diagnosed with DCIS 3.5 years ago at age 53, had lumpectomy, did the radiation, now on Tamoxifen. I am a survivor. The radiation may slow you down a little but it won't stop you! I did feel tired but never sick.

Navratilova: Hi Jan, thanks for that. Good to know. I am feeling very hopeful that I will be able to do my job during the French Open and that the radiation will not knock me out too much.

Comment from Ileene: How do we learn not to dwell on what we have been through after our surgery and treatment and how do we alleviate the fear of recurrence?

Dr. Silver: If Martina sleeps well, that will help. It can be hard to sleep well when you travel and are worried about cancer. It's important to talk to your doctor about sleep issues all through cancer treatment and afterward.

Dr. Silver: It's hard not to dwell on things. But, it gets easier over time. Keep in mind that most cancer survivors were not diagnosed at the earliest possible stage, but that there are nearly 12 million cancer survivors in the U.S. Having regrets can weigh us down. Focus on today and what you want to do in the future.

Next: Staying positive and supportive>>

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