What to con­sider dur­ing your can­cer treat­ment

The Delhi News-Record - - OPINION - CATHY TELFER Cathy Telfer is an In­for­ma­tion Out­reach Vol­un­teer with the Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety

Con­tin­u­ing the “ALL ABOUT YOU” theme from last month, those plans you made prior to treat­ment may very well change once you have be­gun. Since peo­ple re­act dif­fer­ently to the va­ri­ety of can­cer treat­ment op­tions, you may re­con­sider or re­vise your pre­vi­ous prepa­ra­tions.

Phys­i­cal needs must be ad­dressed dur­ing treat­ment. You can ex­pect food to taste dif­fer­ent once treat­ment be­gins. In the early stages, en­joy favourite meals but be pre­pared for your palate to change and some things to taste “off”. No mat­ter how you feel, it is im­por­tant to stay hy­drated with what­ever liq­uids ap­peal to you. If you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing neg­a­tive side ef­fects like nau­sea or mouth sores, let your health­care team know be­cause there are things that can be done to ease your dis­com­fort.

Find ways to be com­fort­able dur­ing treat­ment – loose, ca­sual cloth­ing if you will be sit­ting in a chemo chair for pro­longed pe­ri­ods of time, or cloth­ing that is easy to take off for ex­ams. Once you are home, have a warm shawl or throw nearby if you tend to get cold. Con­sider a lay­ered ap­proach if hot flashes are an­noy­ing you.

Emo­tional needs can be ad­dressed dur­ing treat­ment through spir­i­tual or psy­cho­log­i­cal means. Even if you’re not in the habit con­sider med­i­ta­tion, vis­ual im­agery, or prayer. Many can­cer sur­vivors find com­fort in mu­sic or soft yoga. Some peo­ple en­joy movies with hu­mour and per­sonal mes­sages.

In your folder of in­for­ma­tion be sure to record your re­ac­tions to treat­ment, ques­tions for your health­care team and changes to your gen­eral health. Some peo­ple pre­fer to carry a jour­nal for these less sci­en­tific but most im­por­tant feel­ings.

Even if you’ve planned ahead and have peo­ple to take you to ap­point­ments, some­times things change es­pe­cially af­ter pro­longed treat­ment. The Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety has a “Wheels of Hope” pro­gram where trans­porta­tion is pro­vided for can­cer-re­lated ap­point­ments which gives you peace of mind and as­sis­tance when needed. If you need a ride to your treat­ment and you would like to regis­ter for the Vol­un­teer Driver Pro­vided Pro­gram please call 1-800263-6750.

If you want to use so­cial me­dia to share your story with friends, then ask some­one to do that for you – some­one you trust to tell your story as you want it told. De­cide who will do it, how of­ten and in what plat­form. As your en­ergy or pa­tience is de­pleted, you may want less com­pany and you need to be able to com­mu­ni­cate that to vis­i­tors. This could be the per­son post­ing up­dates for you or a “gate-keeper” who an­swers phone calls or home vis­its.

Seek out peo­ple who can share mes­sages of hope and com­fort. The last thing you need is some­one who wants to share sto­ries with neg­a­tive out­comes. Avoid peo­ple who start their mono­logue with, “I know a man who…” and then pro­ceed to tell you about this phan­tom per­son who didn’t do well. Peo­ple who say, “You should hear about…” and share de­tails of some­one worse off should be shut down be­fore they start.

And – few peo­ple find com­fort in the thoughts that come af­ter: “At least…”.

If you want to talk to some­one who has a sim­i­lar can­cer to yours or who has com­pleted treat­ment, the Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety can con­nect you with a trained vol­un­teer. It is some­times eas­ier to chat com­fort­ably with a stranger than to a loved one who shares your fears and anx­i­eties. You can regis­ter on­line or call the toll-free num­ber ( be­low). There is also an on­line com­mu­nity for you and your loved ones to share your ex­pe­ri­ences and con­nect with oth­ers cop­ing with can­cer. To get started, sim­ply en­ter “CancerCon­nec­tion. ca” and cre­ate a pro­file.

Know­ing there are sup­ports avail­able and that you have peo­ple to rely on, you can get through this and look ahead to the days when treat­ment is be­hind you and you are well again.

To find out more about what you can do dur­ing can­cer treat­ment, please talk to an in­for­ma­tion spe­cial­ist at 1-888-939-3333, visit the web­site at www.can­cer.ca, or call the Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety Com­mu­nity Of­fice.

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JA­COB ROBIN­SON

Cathy Telfer

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