Help with navigating your breast cancer journey

Cara Novy-Bennewitz

A while ago, Marie graciously invited me to guest blog this month, in order to gather some information designed to help newly diagnosed breast cancer patients navigate their journey. I must admit I had been hesitant to send it, knowing all that Marie is experiencing right now.  When I saw her request for help, I knew I should submit my guest post. As we are all learning through Marie’s posts, nothing ever really prepares us for hearing bad news.

I have no doubt you remember exactly where you were when you heard the words “you’ve got cancer.” I was home alone on a Wednesday night when I got the call. After my internist delivered the news he told me he’d arranged a consultation for me at 9:00 Friday morning with a breast surgeon. When I hung up, I just sat there, too stunned to even cry. I told my husband as soon as he got home and together we waited for Friday to arrive.

It never even occurred to me to prepare for my appointment. I just figured I would hear what the surgeon had to say and move forward from there. Well, that was a mistake.

Don’t get me wrong. The doctor, who ultimately ended up being my surgeon, was bright, articulate and straight to the point. The problem was me. Being an exercise specialist, I just assumed I would be able to follow what she was talking about. What I didn’t factor in was the reality that I would sit there like a deer in headlights, nodding my head, pretending to process what she was telling me. It wasn’t much better for my physician husband either.

Before leaving, the surgeon asked us if we had any questions. I thought she’s kidding, right?  I had so many questions I didn’t even know where to start.  As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until weeks later, I learned of everything I should have been asking, but didn’t know at the time. As we headed to the elevator I turned to my husband and said there’s got to be a better way to do this. From that moment forward, I concentrated on creating that “better” way.

With the help of many breast cancer specialists and fellow survivors I have written Diagnosis: Breast Cancer, The Best Action Plan to Navigate Your Journey an indispensable resource for newly diagnosed patients.  The book provides worksheets for every aspect of the journey from what questions to ask each specialist to how to keep track of all the accompanying paperwork and medical expenses.

My primary goal in writing this book was to make sure that anyone diagnosed with breast cancer could have help navigating their journey. I felt so strongly about this that I went ahead and submitted a proposal to the GE $100M Healthymagination Open Innovation Challenge and it was accepted! Out of over 500 ideas submitted to the challenge, this idea has received the most comments from survivors and their families, leading me to believe I have struck a chord in patients needs.

Marie has offered to help me gather some data by posting the two surveys below. I am interested in learning about how you organized your cancer materials and about your exercise habits. Marie let me know her loyal readers have many opinions they would be willing to share, along with their expertise.

If you are currently a breast cancer patient, please click on the survey below:

If you are through with treatments, please click on the survey below:

If you would like to show your support or leave a comment for the GE challenge please click below:

Although nothing can prepare us for hearing the words “you’ve got cancer”, we can be prepared for how to move forward. I sincerely thank you for helping me and future patients out. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you this holiday season.

About the Author

Cara Novy-Bennewitz is an Exercise Physiologist, Certified Cancer Exercise Specialist and Medical Ambassador for The American Cancer Society. She is a seasoned educator and presenter who’s dedicated to empowering patients throughout their cancer journey. Cara is currently working on creating a website designed specifically for helping cancer patients develop a safe exercise program during and beyond treatments.  Please feel free to contact her at