Breast Cancer diagnosis: Carenity members tell their story

Published Jun 25, 2019 • Updated Jan 17, 2020 • By Lee Ruiz

Carenity members affected by breast cancer have graciously told us about their journey with their breast cancer diagnosis! Symptoms, emotions, tests and examinations, medical care, treatments... read their story with their diagnosis. 

Carenity survey of 99 patients in the United States.

Breast Cancer diagnosis: Carenity members tell their story

A majority of the patients waited less than a year to be diagnosed and the majority consulted with 2 doctors before reaching their diagnosis.

Fortunately for those suffering from breast cancer, the time period to arriving at a diagnosis was not too long. 82% of patients who participated in this survey received a diagnosis in less than a year from the initial onset of symptoms; 18% of respondents received a diagnosis after more than a year.

During this period, respondents experienced varying symptoms with different severities. However, the majority of patients complained of the following symptoms:

Lump in breast | Tender/painful breast| Fatigue| Inverted Nipple | Weight Loss | Discharge from nipple |

Before the diagnosis: the impact of breast cancer

We asked our members about the impacts the symptoms caused by breast cancer had on their daily life before reaching a diagnosis, and this is what they had to say:

fatigue-chronique Chronic fatigue- 55%

vie-intime-cancer Personal Life - 52%

loisirs-cancer Hobbies and activities - 35%

vie-familiale-cancer Family life - 35%

vie-sociale-cancer Social life - 26%

impact-cancer-vie-pro Professional life - 25%

douleurs-cancer Chronic pain - 24%

             Other - 27%

The majority of respondents reported that chronic fatigue had the greatest impact on their daily life before the diagnosis. Fortunately, 46% of respondents reported that only one part of their daily life was impacted by the symptoms prior to reaching a diagnosis. Members, in general, felt that the symptoms impacted their social or professional life the least.

Before diagnosis, only 43% of patients did their own research on the internet concerning their symptoms. A majority of those individuals reported using websites such as the WebMD, breastcancer.org, Komen Foundation, cancer.org, and American Cancer Society, while several patients reported they did their research by reading books and articles or typing symptoms or concerns into Google and other search engines. Additionally, others mentioned they talked to alternative doctors, other patients with a similar diagnosis, and friends who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Many respondents didn’t try any alternative therapies for their breast cancer, such as homoeopathy. Only 13% of the patients that participated in this survey said they did. However, those who did try alternative therapies reported use of CBD oil, medical marijuana, alkaline water, yoga, turmeric, essential oils (such as frankincense oil), the Gerson and Budwig diet, Gerson therapy, minerals (magnesium, niacin, chromium), and vitamin c.

Being diagnosed with breast cancer: what you had to say

For many diseases, the road to diagnosis is peppered with a misdiagnosis/misdiagnoses. However, with breast cancer, only 7% of the participating patients experienced a diagnosis error prior to their ultimate diagnosis with breast cancer.

According to the Carenity members that participated in this survey, they were misdiagnosed with a stomach ulcer, vitamin D deficiency, bursitis, fibrocystic breast disease, and GERD. 

Although only 7% of members reported a misdiagnosis, the misdiagnosis did result in causing considerable stress. One member said that they were constantly feeling “frightened for the future” and were in “constant pain”.

The shock of the diagnosis  

How did patients react to their diagnosis?

choc-annonce-cancerIt wasn’t a shock, I was expecting it - 44%

peur-cancer It was horrifying - 33%

choc-annonce-cancer It was brutal - 21%

soulagement-cancer I didn’t feel anything in particular - 15%

diagnostic-cancer-reaction It was a relief - 7%


Finding out that you have breast cancer can be a frightening event, but 15% said they did not experience any particular sentiment whilst 7% of patients can’t remember how they felt at all.

The role of doctors and healthcare professionals

The role of the healthcare professional making the diagnosis is key. Sometimes patients do not feel sufficiently listened to or informed about their condition. The good news is that the majority of Carenity members felt that their doctor took time in discussing with them their breast cancer diagnosis while also being calm and emphatic. The main problem members felt with their medical care was the feeling that the practitioner didn’t care and they were cold and distant delivering the diagnosis.

Some comments from respondents described that the doctor expressed sorrow when informing them of the diagnosis, while others described the delivery as being more "rude" and "blurted out”. Some respondents said their doctor's office informed them of the results and diagnosis over the phone, while others requested that they come into the office.

Fortunately, overall, the majority of respondents had positive feedback regarding their medical care and doctor, with some respondents saying their doctor or doctor's office "was sympathetic," "offered support," and offered information for local support groups and groups for assistance.

>> Read our article about the psychological impact of breast cancer<<

le médecin 

66%The doctor took the time to explain

60%The doctor was very emphatic 

57% -  The doctor was very calm

24%The doctor offered psychological support

ressenti négatif

9% -   They were cold and distant

7% They used cold and scientific language

7%They were too fast explaining

5% - They looked like they didn’t care 

10% - Other


The patient's struggle when facing breast cancer...

We asked our members how they felt emotionally after receiving their diagnosis, whether they felt renewed with determination now that they had a name for their symptoms/condition, or whether they felt despair for their future medical journey. Many members responded having felt several emotions at once and this is what they had to say:

26% of patients felt relieved by the diagnosis, but this was coupled with 69% feeling a great deal of anxiety. This anxiety was coupled with shock and surprise for 51% of respondents. 

32% felt anger about their diagnosis; 28% reported feeling lost, confused and alone; 22% felt discouraged, and 10% of participating patients felt misunderstood.

Fortunately, 58% of participating members felt determined to fight the disease, but only 19% had confidence for the future, with 10% feeling despair. 

How can diagnosing breast cancer be improved?

The above statistics about how patients felt following their diagnosis paints a "not so great" picture for those facing a diagnosis of breast cancer. We asked our members how they felt the process could be improved and a lot of respondents said they would have appreciated more support following the initial diagnosis.

More Information

The most resounding suggestion in improving the journey with a diagnosis of breast cancer is for doctors and doctor's offices to be kind/compassionate and to provide the patient with more information about their diagnosis, what they can expect going forward, and how to manage it.

Another important suggestion from members is to have someone there for support during the appointment or phone call... "bring a family member or friend."

This is what some members had to say:

"At the very least the doctor should call. There should be more compassion than a cold nurse delivering a cancer diagnosis."

"A bad diagnosis should never be given over the phone."

"I think if I was called back into the doctor's office to discuss the biopsy report, vs getting the phone call, I would have been more upset. The doctor remained calm, understanding and answered questions. If I had had to see the doctor tell me the diagnosis, her reaction would have added to my distress."

"Bring a family or friend with you who knows how to show empathy and support."

"There is really no best way to hear about chemo radiation surgery or cancer, just be supportive and answer their concerns as they arrive and help with emotional support when needed. Family's support and great friends and your community all play a part when you world crashing around you when you can't work or take care of yourself. It's a tough struggle some days to just get outta bed."

In brief

Patients feel that their doctor should show compassion and dedicate time to answer any questions when delivering a breast cancer diagnosis. Patients also encourage utilizing family members, friends, and your community for support.

Members want more detailed information and support from their healthcare providers so that they don’t feel lost and discouraged going forward.


And what is your story?
Let's share our experiences and that of our loved ones in the comments regarding breast cancer diagnosis!

avatar Lee Ruiz

Author: Lee Ruiz, Community Manager USA

Lee is a Juris Doctor and Doctor of Physical Therapy. Now the Community Manager of Carenity US, he strongly believes that the platform has to be a haven and a tool for patients seeking information, advice or just a... >> Learn more


Lee__R • Community manager
on 6/27/19

Did you participate in the recent survey for breast cancer diagnosis? Have you seen the results of the survey?

Where you participated or not, we encourage you to read through the results and share... do the results also reflect your journey with your diagnosis?

@Lisalinn99‍ @sara_at32‍ @angellinda‍ @larab5‍ @DENISEAMONEY‍ @pal1210‍ @Margie‍ @Mimasw‍ @Susang‍ @Jes.xo‍ @Fini123‍ @Trd1559a‍ @Blwichert‍ @hermajestyr‍ @Lorri1‍ @HawaiianLau‍ @Saragrace‍ @denisejeanmckeon‍ @Tryinmy‍ @Cookie7199‍ @spapach‍ @dr3amy67‍ @marlajf‍ @Innurse‍ @PinkGlamgall‍ @NJGIRL‍ @GailJoy05‍ @Twoodby370‍ @Enfemia‍ @Hseechan55‍ @Karencw‍ @HopePromise‍ @Shaheed‍ @Lorriesusan‍ @Kat122016‍ @Arasan04‍ @maryrogers‍ @Minnie01‍ @dianfor‍ @Maggardkd‍ @Bevsfolly1‍ @felixcatwoman‍ 

on 6/30/19

How do I see the results?

Lee__R • Community manager
on 7/16/19

@denisejeanmckeon‍ I apologize for the delay in responding. The results are in this article. If you scroll up to the top of this page, you will see the beginning of the article. Please let me know if you need any further assistance.

Additionally, you can always reference the Health Magazine and sort by condition by clicking here.

on 7/21/19

I haven't 

on 7/31/19

Thank you for providing this information and resource.

You will also like

How I Didn’t Let Cancer Stop Me from Thriving (All 9 Times)

Breast cancer

How I Didn’t Let Cancer Stop Me from Thriving (All 9 Times)

Read the article
World Cancer Day: Facts and Insights!

Breast cancer

World Cancer Day: Facts and Insights!

Read the article
Telling patients to 'fight' cancer puts them under pressure

Breast cancer

Telling patients to 'fight' cancer puts them under pressure

Read the article
Does Eating Organic Food Prevent Cancer?


Does Eating Organic Food Prevent Cancer?

Read the article

Most commented discussions

Fact sheet