Thursday, March 13, 2014

The cancer patient's interpretation of the doctor's advice

I came upon this article by a surgeon who has partnered with some cancer patients to come up with this advice when you are blindsided by cancer. While I agree with it overall, of course I have a few comments.

His advice is summarized as:
  • Take a breath, seriously
  • Own your cancer
  • Don't run to the internet
  • Select your physician partners
  • Understand two critical features of your cancer
I agree with to take a breath and try to relax.  You are not going to die tomorrow (unless the bus doesn't miss). You have time to breathe and try to figure out what is right for you. You can take the time to absorb with what you have just learned. Go home, sit down and think about what you have learned and what you want to know. Then you can get back with your doctor for more information and options.

Own your cancer and your life. Don't just give up. Keep ownership of your life and take ownership of your cancer. Be a participant in the decision making process. Get a cancer buddy/caregiver to help you through this and hold your hand, bring your bowls of ice cream, and glasses of wine.

I think you should go to the internet for information with the caveat that you find out the good places to go for information on your cancer. Do not wildly Google your cancer and the words 'death rates' - you will only stress yourself out. But if you have information to direct you to where the information is about your cancer where you can learn the right kind of information which is not a pack of lies, aka a pile of hooey. My tip, if you do not know where to start, always start with the American Cancer Society.

I never really have selected my 'physician partners'. What I have done, is ditched any which I did not like. But I have never physician shopped or second opinion hopped.

Two critical features about your cancer are:

"First, you must learn how your specific type of cancer behaves, as each (breast, prostate, whatever) is unique. Second, you must understand your specific cancer stage."

This will help you greatly to understand where you are and what are your options. You are putting a name on it. Which leads me to my personal requirement:

You cannot have an ailment or take a medication without knowing how to both spell and say it properly. This is another way you take ownership of your cancer and learn more about it.

Okay, so the patient came through with agreements and disagreements but I think we both can agree that cancer should not take you over. You are still you.

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