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Meet Your Coaches

Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S.

About Lillie

Lillie D. Shockney has been the administrative director of the Johns Hopkins Breast Center since 1997. A two-time breast cancer survivor, Lillie has worked tirelessly to improve the care of breast cancer patients around the world. She is a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree in health care administration from Saint Joseph's College and a Masters in Administrative Science from the Johns Hopkins University. She has worked at Johns Hopkins since 1983. She is also certified as a breast imaging and breast cancer patient navigator. Beginning the end of 2011, she accepted the inaugural role as director of the Johns Hopkins cancer survivorship programs for the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.

Lillie is a published author and nationally recognized public speaker on the subject of breast cancer. She has written 14 books and more than 250 articles on this subject. She serves on the medical advisory board of several national breast cancer organizations and is the co-founder and vice president of a national non-profit organization called Mothers Supporting Daughters with Breast Cancer.

Hear from Lillie


Lillie Answers Your Questions – What To Do When You Are Newly Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

As someone newly diagnosed with breast cancer, what do I really need to know?

“Today, 85% of women diagnosed with breast cancer will be long-term survivors like me.”

Though breast cancer remains the most feared disease of all women, it has more happy endings than sad ones. Today, 85% of women diagnosed with breast cancer will be long-term survivors like me. Additionally, 80% of women are good candidates for lumpectomy surgery and don't have to lose their breast to this disease.

For those who do need mastectomy surgery, there are multiple reconstruction techniques that offer an impressive cosmetic outcome. These techniques include:

  • Skin sparing mastectomy: Surgery that involves removing all of the breast tissue, but only the skin of the nipple, areola, and the original biopsy scar from the breast. This preserves as much of the breast skin as possible and allows for an immediate reconstruction.
  • Nipple sparing mastectomy: Surgery that removes all of the breast tissue but leaves the nipple alone.
  • DIEP flap: A type of breast reconstruction where blood vessels and the skin and fat connected to them are removed from the lower abdomen and used for reconstruction.
  • S- GAP: A type of breast construction where fat and skin from the upper buttock are used for reconstruction.
  • Reconstructions

What is your best piece of advice for someone who is newly diagnosed with breast cancer?

Almost all patients have time to gather information, empower themselves with it and make good decisions about where to seek treatment. Though you may have just heard the words "you have breast cancer," in most cases the cancer has been there for several years. You have time to develop a treatment plan. That doesn't mean you can leave for a 6-month cruise! It does mean it's okay to take several weeks to get your consultations and empower yourself with valuable information so that you can confidently embark on your treatment plan.

What do you wish someone had told you when you were diagnosed?

“You are a package. Handle with care.”

That we are not alone... and that this is "doable." For a few hours or even days, people with breast cancer can feel like they are about to travel a scary journey alone. But the truth is, there are nearly 3 million women in the U.S. who are breast cancer survivors like I am. Some organizations provide survivor volunteers for one-on-one support too.

Also, I encourage people to seek out a breast center that addresses you as a whole person. You are not just a Stage IIb breast cancer patient - you are a woman, in her mid-forties, who is a school teacher, has a mother who you care for in your home, is divorced, has a teenage son who is driving you nuts, and you are worried about your finances due to potential time missed from work as a result of needing breast cancer treatment. You need your physical and psychological needs addressed. You are a package. Handle with care.