In the last blog, we tackled the question of, “what if cancer is suspected?” during the COVID-19 pandemic. We looked at various ways to get the desperately needed answers to that questions. In this blog we will address the 2nd category, Cancer Diagnosis, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For many who suspected cancer, they may be told, “I’m glad to report that the result of the test(s) was negative; no cancer was seen.” There is usually a sigh of relief, tears of gratitude and whispers of keeping the many promises made to God during the waiting posture. The burden is lifted. For some, the results were not so kind. They may be told, “I’m sorry to inform you that the result of the test(s) was positive for cancer.” Pause. Sobs. Screams. Silence. Click. Thud. Nothing else is usually heard after the word “cancer.” After recuperating, the next frenzied line of questions usually includes:
Hopefully, these questions were asked while still on the phone, or a phone number was given for follow-up call, or an appointment was scheduled to discuss the next steps. It is generally important to get an idea of the big picture, then with an advocate, take each portion of the planned treatment one step at a time.
Example of the big picture may be: “Mr/Mrs X., to treat this cancer will require surgery first, followed by chemotherapy and then radiation therapy. Before anything can be done, or any final recommendations made, we will require several additional tests (CT scan, MRI, blood test, pulmonary function test, etc.,) so that we can find out if the cancer is still localized (not spread anywhere else in the body). Consultations with each specialty will then be scheduled, because they may need the results of these test to discuss appropriate treatment recommendations. First the additional tests.”
Depending on the type of cancer, the treatment may be mono-therapy (surgery alone, chemotherapy alone, radiation therapy alone), or any combination of the three (3). Other ancillary tests and treatments may also be discussed with your doctors. The Cancer 101 of the Cancer Courses covers some of the more common tests that are usually required. The courses give a great overview of various procedures, tests, the basics of staging, lymphatic systems, chemotherapy and different types of radiation treatments. If the previous sentence sounds like a foreign language, then buckle-up, because unfortunately, for the lay-person, non-medically inclined, or even medical professionals not in oncology, the language will only become more intensified and complicated. Try the Free Demo Course and see below for an example of the types of videos used in the courses.
This is the beginning of a very long journey. Call on family, friends and love ones for comfort and advocacy (someone to speak up for you, ask questions for you, travel with you, etc.,). Don’t worry about being a burden. IF the roles were reversed, would you be there for them? Well then, if the answer is yes, then they are there for you too. Never go to an appointment alone, if at all possible. The Cancer Journal and Guide may be useful for preparing for the consultations (Breast, Prostate, and General for Lung Cancer, or other types of Cancer).
Discuss with each specialty during consultation, the impact of COVID-19 on the normal cancer treatment processes. It is important to understand that Physical Examination is an important part of any consultation, especially for cancer. No opinion is rendered here but discuss with your consulting physician how this will be approached. COVID-19 is changing the approach to many things. Who knows, maybe the consultation will be done via a video-chat platform, especially in some location most heavily affected by the virus. It is being reported that patients infected with the COVID-19 virus are successfully treated for cancer during this pandemic. It can and has been done.
SURGERY: During the COVID-19 pandemic, elective surgeries in most States are postponed. First question: Is the required surgery to treat this cancer considered elective? How soon can the surgery be performed/scheduled? See the Cancer Journal and Guide for additional line of questioning and write the answers down in the space provided to share/remember later
CHEMOTHERAPY: Are there any additional pre-caution that I must take with my family and friends during chemotherapy? Social distancing is fine to apply to some family, all friends and colleagues. However, my significant other goes to work and comes home, should we stay in the same room? What should be done at home? See the Cancer Journal and Guide for additional line of questioning and write the answers down in the space provided to share/remember later
RADIATION THERAPY: These treatments are typically given daily for weeks at a time. Close proximity with the therapist is necessary. What is the clinic’s protocol during the COVID-19 pandemic? Will this affect the treatment recommendations? See the Cancer Journal and Guide for additional line of radiation therapy questioning and write the answers down in the space provided to share/remember later
Without knowing the details of the specific cancer diagnosis, these are generalized questions and suggestions that may serve as a guide during this process. Don’t forget the basics. Discuss specific side-effects from treatment during the consultations and all the other things patients need to know as suggested in the Cancer Journals. Next time, the final phase will be discussed – after cancer treatments.
Life is beautiful and God is awesome. And know… you are pure awesomeness!
Until next time,
Ipsa Scientia Potestas est ——— Knowledge itself is power!
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Queen, Your Family Friendly Cancer Doc!