A cancer diagnosis frightens and upsets the affected person and their loved ones. Being well informed can make it easier for them to cope with it.
The body is made up of billions of cells that come together to form organs and tissue. These cells all follow their own formula to do their job, develop, and also to die. Sometimes, this formula fails and cells accumulate, forming a tumour. Not all tumours are cancerous. Tests must be done to determine whether or not it is.
The name of the cancer is directly related to the site where the initial tumour was formed. For example, if the cancerous cells appear in the prostate, we say that a person has prostate cancer. Sometimes, cancer cells break off from the initial tumour and attach elsewhere in the body. These secondary cancer sites are called metastases.
The treatment of cancer has changed a lot over the years and in many cases, recovery is now quite possible.
Look for reliable information
It is completely normal to want information about the disease, treatment options and the chances of recovery. Internet makes it easy to access information. However, be careful, not all information on the Internet is reliable. Additionally, there are various types and sub-types of cancers and of cancerous cells. It’s possible that the information you have found doesn’t apply to your situation. Ask your healthcare team (doctor, nurse, pharmacist) to provide you with reliable information that applies to your situation. Ask about the disease, treatments, surgeries, exams, monitoring or simply about the elements that will make it easier for you to overcome this ordeal. Be prepared and informed.
Prepare your appointments with the healthcare team
Always have your medication list at hand. Don’t take over-the-counter medications or natural products without first speaking to a pharmacist.
If you are prescribed tests, make sure to do them within the requested time.
Ask a loved one to accompany you to your appointments. The emotional load is significant and it will be easier for two people to retain the information.
Write down your questions on paper. Have what is needed on hand to write down the answers to your questions.
If you experience symptoms or new elements, write them down for discussion. Be transparent with your healthcare team.
If you have to have surgery or treatments, this will require a lot of energy. Additionally, the many appointments will occupy a lot your time. Prepare meals in advance so you can eat healthy throughout your treatments. Accept the help offered to you by loved ones for meals, errands and household tasks. There are also many resources available to help you. Ask your treating team to provide information.
Coping with cancer
Cancer involves various treatments depending on the type of cancer you have, the stage of the disease, and the objective to be reached. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy come with adverse effects. Certain tips can help you to better cope with them. It is important not to hide anything from your treating team.
Additionally, the changes that result are not only physical, but also psychological and spiritual. Cancer is the source of many emotions that follow one another continuously (fear, anxiety, anger, etc.). This situation does not have the same significance for everyone, and each person experiences it in their own way. Various resources help to manage this aspect of the disease. So, don’t hesitate to ask for help and support.
Promote recovery and maintain it
You may be tempted by product proposals or solutions that may seem miraculous. Use your critical judgment! Many of them have not proven their efficacy. In addition to following the advice and treatments recommended by your treating team, here is what has been proven to be beneficial to you:
- quit smoking
- exercise regularly, and inquire about the activities suitable to your health
- eat healthy (a diet that includes fruits, vegetables and fibre-rich foods that contain little salt and fat)
- limit alcohol consumption to the maximum recommended daily amount
- see your doctor regularly and pass the recommended screening tests (mammogram, colonoscopy, rectal examination, etc.)
Beating cancer is a major challenge with repercussions on all aspects of life. It’s possible to get through it, and there are several resources that can help. You can always count on your pharmacist to answer your questions about health and, above all, medications.