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Managing Cancer Like An Event!

By: Arlene M. Karole, FACHE, CHCP, CMP, MSA | Oct 26, 2023

“You have breast cancer.” 

Handling The News

While we go about our days prioritizing what’s important, from juggling meetings with leadership presenting budgets, negotiating contracts with vendors, doing a site visit, or taking care of personal issues like dropping the kids off at school, food shopping, or carving out time for the gym, there’s nothing more foreboding than hearing those four words that push the attention of your health to the top of the list!

I was terrified, angry, in denial, shocked, and caught off guard by this diagnosis. Plus, I just started a new job and was preparing to celebrate a big birthday; I thought—I don’t have time for cancer!

And so, then, what? How do you handle that news? After going through a roller coaster of emotions, I knew I had to prioritize my health. I had to take control of a seemingly uncontrollable situation. At that moment, I decided to remove my feelings and manage my diagnosis like my job! 

I had to research, organize, communicate, budget, and manage up. Instead of researching the perfect venue for my next medical conference, off-site event, or faculty dinner, I was seeking out breast cancer specialists and plastic surgeons. I wasn’t organizing a pre-con or walk-through meeting with my AV team; I was coordinating medical appointments and scheduling breast needle biopsies, MRIs, PET scans, and blood tests. Instead of managing my budgets and negotiating contracts, I worked with insurance companies, discussing possible medical expenses and co-pays to ensure my procedures and tests were covered.

Taking Control

Early on in my diagnosis, I came across this quote that inspired me:

“Everything can be taken from a man, but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

While my diagnosis initially seemed like I was thrust into a seemingly uncontrollable situation, this quote made me realize no matter your unique diagnosis, stage of breast cancer, stage of life, or gender (Men get breast cancer, too!), we have choices regarding our attitude, approach, and healthcare decisions.


It was then I got empowered by taking charge of my diagnosis. Now thriving, I am living with purpose and passion and able to help others through their journey with an illness toward recovery, healing, and beyond. I pay it forward by teaching others how we must be engaged participants as co-creators of our wellness and well-being.


I was journeying through breast cancer when I crafted the initial seven steps I took to own my diagnosis. My dear friend, who battled kidney cancer, Mr. Jimmy Maxwell, shared with me that these steps applied to his diagnosis and can be applied to help navigate any diagnosis. You, too, can use these steps or share them with a friend, family member, or colleague who may have been recently diagnosed.

The 7 Steps












Being Co-Creators of Our Health

Just as we take control of and manage our diagnosis, we need to use that same strategy and process to heal forward, focus on prevention, and live our best lives! Awareness, playing a proactive role, fully engaging in our day-to-day behaviors, and following the path of preventive healthcare are easier to achieve, as opposed to the path of getting better once we have a medical diagnosis. We have choice and control.

With the entrance of big tech in healthcare, retail health, wearable technology, patient connectivity, Internet of Things (IoT), and other innovations, allowing greater transparency and accessibility to information, we are empowered as consumers with knowledge and, in some cases, more affordable options to medical care.


Once we overcome being patients, we must shift into the narrative of being co-creators of our health and outcomes and focusing on our environment, stress levels, diet, and exercise to help us live our best lives! We take ownership of our health, focus on prevention, and work harmoniously with our providers toward patient-centered care and shared decision-making.

Yes, I managed my diagnosis, recovery, and healing like my job, and you can too!  

Read Arlene's full story and tips in her book "Just Diagnosed"

Buy on Amazon



Arlene M. Karole, FACHE, CHCP, CMP, MSA

Arlene M. Karole, FACHE, CHCP, CMP, MSA, is board-certified in healthcare management as a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE), Certified Healthcare Professional (CHCP), Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) and earned her Master’s degree in health services administration. As a healthcare executive, educator, author of Just Diagnosed: Breast Cancer, and founder of Illumination Associates, educating patients and caregivers on how to take charge of their health. She is an inspired, outspoken leader and patient advocate. Karole serves and is active on the boards of numerous healthcare organizations, has been featured in multiple national media publications, and is a columnist for a breast cancer magazine.

Learn more at AMKJustDiagnosed.

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