Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

You Are Part Of Your Cure

I am now going to contradict myself from past posts, where I say “let the doctor be the doctor” and “the doctors know best”.  Treating cancer is not just about having the right doctor to make the right diagnosis and treatment plan, but it takes a team of qualified professionals.  And one of those professionals is you, the patient.

Like a professional sports team, one player does not make up the team.  Sure, every team has their superstar, their coach, but there still are more than a dozen more players that will make that team successful.  And under normal circumstances, they will be successful.

Your cancer team is no different.  Your superstar is obviously going to be your oncologist.  He is the one that will diagnose, stage, and treat the cancer.  He is the one you can count on when the seconds are winding down on the clock.  But unless you are aware of it, there are plenty of other players on your team that you should be aware of.

The Oncology Nurse = I would recognize the oncology nurse as a starting pitcher, number one in the rotation, or maybe the goalie in hockey.  You will probably spend the majority of time with this player from administration of meds, to observation, through treatments.  The oncology nurse is the one individual who will probably learn about you best and most likely will be the one who can help you understand and differentiate what feels normal during treatments, and what might be something to be concerned about.

Psychologist/Counselor = You are going to go through a lot of emotions on this journey.  Personally, I do not recommend just any therapist or social worker.  I feel it is important to have someone to listen who has knowledge personally, or has studied of dealing with cancer.  There is a big difference in dealing with someone you know who “gets it.”

Dietician = Your taste may change during treatment.  You may need to supplement nutrition due to foods you are restricted from.  Perhaps, like me, you just have bad diet habits to begin with.  A dietician affiliated with the cancer network is good support to make sure that you maintain a good diet and good diet habits.

Physical and Occupational Therapist = Treatments are most likely going to kick the crap out of you physically by the end of your treatments.  And if you are like me, who has exercised his whole life, there is a big difference to rehabilitating yourself once treatment has been completed.  Your body has been put through a ringer.  Any surgeries have actually physically altered your body.  Any treatments may have affected your body physiologically.  In any case, the last thing you need to do is cause any more issues for your body by exercising incorrectly or pushing yourself too hard and too fast.  And yes, in some cases, you may need to re-learn how to do some thing things.

Pastoral = Briefly, if you have faith, keep it, build it, use it.

Of course, for a team to be successful, it needs a coach or a manager.  No, they are not the ones who throw touchdowns, or hit homeruns, but without their decision making, the teams would not be successful.  And guess who the coach/manager is of your cancer care?  You are.  You have the say in the deciding the options that are available to you.  You are the one that has to evaluate your way body feels from any kind of side effect.  You are the one that makes the call.  The days are gone, where the doctor simply says, “take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”  Medicine is overwhelmed today and there are very few doctors anymore who spend enough time with you to get to know you.  Today, most doctors function out of clinics, so you are no longer even guaranteed to see the same doctor when you return.  Not being able to see the same doctor, who will know you every time you are in their office is a big deal.  I have had the same family practitioner for over 25 years.  I will wait an extra day if necessary to see her not only because she knows me so well as her patient, she also respects me as a member of my treatment team.  In fact, all doctors I deal with, know that I am a member of the treatment team.

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