“The life-changing diagnosis. C.A.O.S in mind”: this is the title of the speech by Adele Patrini, Councillor of the Federation of Voluntary Associations in Oncology – Lombardy Regional Committee, Vice President of the Italian School of Senology and President of C.A.O.S. (Centro Ascolto Operate al Seno), during Mamazone 2018, the eighth edition of “Paziente Diplomata”, a day dedicated to women with and without breast cancer, organized by Humanitas last October 13.

“I’m here to tell you about the voice of the patients, extraordinary stories that come out of the medical file and acquire therapeutic and institutional power; very important experiences that contain the inspiring principles and the choices of health policy.

In order to get to the heart of this day I wanted to share a thought of Umberto Veronesi, a man who has made the history of breast disease in our country and who has given us a message of great value, not only scientific but also cultural: I often think, in these days when I have a lot of time to meditate, unfortunately, at some point we will have to find the courage to say that breast disease is not simply a branch of medicine, not in the scientific sense for charity, given that there are other specialities that are much more complex and difficult to learn on a conceptual level, but in the humanistic sense – if I may use the term -. It is not a good idea to think that anyone can devote themselves to breast medicine as long as they study the anatomy of the breast and the biology of breast cancer. I think that in order to dedicate oneself profitably to this disease one must have a sort of predisposition: a strong interest in the health of women, first of all. And a deep awareness of their role in society and of the psychological balances that support it”.

Multidisciplinarity, passion and networking: the Breast Unit’s words

“We are starting from a fact that has not only medical, but also cultural, scientific, ethical and philosophical relevance: there are 53 thousand new cases of breast cancer per year in Italy. However, this fact travels in parallel with the more reassuring one on recovery, which exceeds 95%, provided that the diagnosis is early and the treatment process takes place in the dedicated Breast Unit.

So what is the strength of the dedicated Breast Unit? These are extraordinary models of organization and integration, inspired by three words: multidisciplinarity, personalization and networking. Multidisciplinarity indicates that several figures, strictly tuned to each other, work in absolute collegiality to produce a cure that is an expression of freedom, research, exchange of knowledge, consideration of the person, training and solidarity,” explains Adele Patrini.

The patient’s voice in the Breast Unit

“Within this multidisciplinary team, the patient’s voice – organized in voluntary associations and listening centers such as C.A.O.S., which I founded after my first experience with the disease – works in absolute synergy with the medical-nursing team, precisely to respond to the specific indications of the World Health Organization, which attributes 40% of the peculiarities of the fight against cancer to the psycho-social variant. When a woman falls ill, in fact, she finds within her creativity, passion and energy also the strategies to help other women to heal, through that extraordinary medicine that is her experience”.

A voluntary association – and therefore a patient within a Breast Unit – takes a woman by the hand and accompanies her with sensitivity and passion on her journey with cancer, investing in the relationship of help.