As the timeless saying goes, “Knowledge is power,” and this definitely holds true in your fight against cancer. It’s completely normal to be tossed into a whirlwind of emotions after receiving a cancer diagnosis, but don’t just stop there: empower yourself by making sure you completely understand your diagnosis and know about all the possible things that lie ahead.
Here are some of the most important things about cancer treatment and experience that you need to know:
Details of Your Diagnosis
When talking to your doctor, make sure to discuss the kind, location, stage, and genome (genetic material inside a cell) of cancer that you have along with the following questions:
- Has the cancer spread beyond the original site?
- How long will treatment take and will it eradicate the tumors or simply shrink them?
- Is cure possible?
- What’s the prognosis?
- How will this affect my life as a whole?
Your Treatment Options and their Side Effects
Your care team may utilize any or a combination of the following treatment modalities:
- Chemotherapy – to shrink tumors and destroy cancer cells
- Hormone therapy for breast and prostate cancers – to block the production of hormones to stop the growth or spread of cancer cells
- Immunotherapy- to boost the body’s built-in defenses against disease)
- Radiation– to slow or stop tumor growth
- Stem cell transplants- to restore the body’s ability to make blood cells
- Surgery- To remove tumors and surrounding healthy tissue to make sure cancer is completely eliminated
- Targeted therapy- to interrupt the development of cancer cells
Apart from characteristic nausea and hair and weight loss, cancer treatment can also cause the following:
- Ambulation issues
- Body image problems
- Anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, and other emotional issues
- Lymphedema (swelling associated with lymph nodes or their removal)
- Heart, lung, and endocrine system problems
- Infertility and other symptoms of menopause
- Reduced sexual function
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
It pays to ask your doctor how severe do you need to anticipate them to be, how long they may last, and what you can be done to minimize them. This way, you’ll be adequately prepared physically and emotionally.
The Members of Your Care Team and Their Specific Roles
Achieving a good cancer prognosis entails the collective effort of the entire team— you, your primary care physician, and the other health professionals you will be working with.
Your cancer care team will likely include:
- Financial counselor– to educate you on the costs involved in your treatment
- Medical oncologist– to administer your chemotherapy
- Radiation oncologist– to administer radiation treatment
- Surgeon– to remove existing tumors
- Patient navigator– to guide you and provide you with the support you need throughout your treatment
The Importance of a Good Support System
Cancer treatment can be a long and arduous road. When you meet with your personal cancer care navigator, ask about support groups particular to your kind of cancer. With support groups, you get to meet other people living with the same type of cancer as you have who offer a wealth of information and coping strategies, which can help you navigate your treatment. Support groups also provide an excellent avenue for you to share your feelings and personal experiences, thereby helping reduce your anxiety and contributing to your overall sense of well-being.
It helps to share your diagnosis with the people you trust. The outpouring support that you get from the people you know—your family, friends, significant other, and your support groupmates— plays an undeniably crucial role in helping you achieve a good treatment outcome. You will be pleasantly surprised at how many people will step up to watch your kid/s, walk your dog, make meals, and even do laundry for you, so you can concentrate on getting well.
Cancer Treatment in Wooster OH
At Wooster Community Hospital, our cancer care team consists of highly skilled providers who pride themselves on their dedication to deliver the highest quality of comprehensive, compassionate care that incorporates evidence-based practice and the use of the most advanced technology. Part of that commitment is to empower our patients to take an active role in their own care by adequately providing them with the important information they deserve to know.
To learn more about our cancer care services here at Wooster Community Hospital or to schedule a consultation, call us at (330) 439-1917.