Friday, June 25, 2010

Allow me to edit this article

Here's a article that I wish I had three years ago, After cancer Diagnosis, What Comes Next? But I would like to edit it a bit as I think it is missing a few things:

1. Get basic information about your cancer - they missed one of the most user friendly sites - American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org. If you google your type of cancer you will probably be able to find information on it. Be leery of any sight with medical information which ends in .com, .net, or .biz - they are trying to sell you something.

2. Pick a doctor - If you know anyone who has had the same cancer, ask them. Get a local referral. But also stick within your comfort zone. If you like your doctor, fine dont worry about it. If you want a second opinion, feel free to get one, but also to go back to your first doctor for treatment.

3. Learn to read your pathology reports - the first stop should be to ask your doctor for some explanation of what it means. Then feel free to take it home with you and google away all the terms (and then get confused when they use all the fancy words for different types of cell structure) and then feel free to call your doctor's office back with more questions.

4. Find alternative medicine - there are lots of great ones out there. There are a lot of snake oil salesmen as well so be picky and research any you want to take. Then make sure you keep all your doctors aware of what you are taking or doing for alternative treatment. Some things interact with the drugs given in cancer treatment. Even some vitamins need to be restricted during treatment. Best bet is to keep a list of what you are taking (vitamins, prescribed medicines, over the counter medicines and alternative medicines) and bring it with you to every appointment

5. Find support groups - Don't try to go it alone. Cancer is an isolating disease and it is stressful to you and your family and caregivers. American Cancer Society has information on local resources. However ask to speak to a social worker where you are being treated and ask them for local support resources for you. They can help direct you to any resources you may need - emotional, financial, etc.

6. Clinical trials - Your participation in these can help future cancer patients and should be considered. But they can be very difficult to get into. They are trying to find specific groups of cancer patients - males under 60 who have lung cancer, at stage III who have had surgery in the past 30 days but haven't had any other chemotherapy.... You have to match all the criteria.

7. How to pay for this - Ah the fun part. You have a horrible diagnosis and it could drive you to bankruptcy. Just a little stress on you while you are trying to keep your hair, your dignity, and convince food to stay in your stomach during chemo. Yes they list some great resources but a good place to start is your own insurance company and the hospital social worker and finance department. Call your insurance company and make sure you have a clear understanding of what your co-pays are, referrals that are needed, and out of pocket costs. You don't have to tell them anything about your diagnosis (which is none of their business), you can just ask them to explain your policy.

Then talk to your hospital to be sure you understand how they deal with preapprovals and referrals and what you need to do if anything. Then, ask your social worker if she can help you. Finally, if you are financially strapped, make sure your doctors know you can't afford a lot of expense and see how they can help you juggle their advice with your financial issues. What can be put off vs. what needs to be done more urgently and cheaper alternatives available.

Okay, so I wrote a lot here. Now there is nothing wrong with the original article but I felt a need to add my own two cents worth... Just my opinion.

Yesterday I might have over done things. I worked all day and went for a walk (before the thunderstorms). Then my husband waited for the thunderstorms to end and we went to run some errands before our get together tomorrow afternoon. I was exhausted by the time I got home. I went to bed early. I will do so again tonight. I have a very long day tomorrow because I am an idiot and over scheduled myself.

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