Friday, February 28, 2014

Navigating Through Cancer; CML

One of the most difficult aspects of being diagnosed with cancer is determining your course of action. Once you have gotten over the initial shock, you must accept your diagnosis and jump on the train; the train to conquering your disease and regaining your health. You will quickly realize that for the moment, your life has come to an abrupt, about face. Simple everyday tasks may become monumental and you will find that your quest for knowledge may be insatiable.

This is not the time in your life to sit back and let others take charge; it is time to step up to the plate and become an expert in your disease, and your treatment. This means finding an oncologist that specializes in your type of cancer; one that you feel comfortable with, and one that you literally trust with your life. You should research medications; how they work, what their side effects are (both long and short term), and whether or not they are the right choice for you.

Physicians often prescribe the same medications to all of their patients; they are the ones that they are most familiar with but may, or may not be the right choice for you. You will want to find a doctor that treats you as an individual, not as a “standard” patient, with cancer.

Understanding any special precautions and side effects from your treatment can be very important and should not be taken lightly. Of course, one might expect that you will get all of this information from you oncologist, but that is not always the case.

You should research your type of cancer until you understand what it is, and how it affects your body. You should also research how your treatment actually works, and how it is expected to cure or control your cancer.

You should know and understand what the standard tests and procedures that monitor your CML are, and that they are being performed at appropriate stages of your treatment. You should also make certain that you understand what the results of your tests mean, and how they pertain to you and your treatment.

You may also wish to reach out for support; there are many support groups available both at your local hospitals and cancer treatment centers, as well as on the internet. Imerman Angels offer one-on-one support; their free service will actually match you with a person that is going through the same things that you are.  

If you are looking for a more casual place, one that you can go to anytime day or night  to share your questions, fears and frustrations with, then Facebook rocks! You will find open and closed groups, as well as gender specific groups; knowing that you have somewhere to turn can be of great comfort.

As time goes on the navigation process will become easier and easier; you will begin to understand medical lingo that you have never heard, and you will gain a wealth of knowledge that will allow you to become an active participant in managing your treatment,  and more importantly, in regaining and living  your life.

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