Living with cancer causes many physical, psychological, social and spiritual changes in our patients and families.
Living With Cancer
Living with cancer causes many physical, psychological, social and spiritual changes in our patients and families. While sitting in the waiting room, you are surrounded by people who are at all different stages of survival. Someone may have just been diagnosed with cancer and is crying; others may be pale in color and bald because they are having chemotherapy. Some people just had surgery and are walking with crutches and braces or casts; some may have suffered a complication or a disease setback. And yes, some people may be in the office for their routine visit nine years out from surgery!
The first stage of your relationship with us focuses on diagnosis and treatment. Stress and confusion occurs because of the foreign environment, terminology used and chaos caused by the disruption in daily family, work and social interests. The next stage, usually after surgery, is a time of recovery and reentry back into daily routines. However, the future of remaining disease free is still worrisome. It is necessary to continue with office visits and x-rays to rule out recurrent or metastatic disease. The focus of patients during this time is to regain their strength and endurance that were lost during treatment. Eventually, there should come a time when you can finally consider yourself cured. Some patients experience a lot of setbacks before they reach the comforting feeling of being cured. They fight infections, tumor recurrence and disease metastases which require more surgery and more invasive treatments. Sadly, some patients just cannot overcome their disease.
The emotions experienced in our office by both patients, families and staff are intense. The pace of the office is fast and the environment may be stressful as patients anxiously wait for diagnosis or continue with long term care. Occasional feelings of ‘fragmented care’ are normal because of your dealings with the oncology team (surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, radiologists, and nurses). Our goal is to provide you and your family with supportive, quality care.
Only those who have been diagnosed with cancer and undergone its treatments can truly understand the physical and emotional impact that cancer has on every aspect of one’s life. That is why we make every effort to introduce patients to each other who have similar diseases and surgeries. Resuming daily activities, work, school, sexual and social relations may be difficult. Sharing experiences from those who know what it is like is very beneficial according to most of our patients.
Late effects of cancer treatments or treatment-induced second malignancies, while rare, can occur. That is why medical follow-up is necessary for ten years. Physical effects of cancer treatment can range from minor problems such as daily fatigue, skin and appetite changes, to more severe problems causing infertility, chronic nerve pain, lung or bowel difficulties. Thorough physical exams and follow-up x-rays and scans are important for cancer survivors.
Knowledge is powerful. Knowledge about your body, your disease and its treatment gives a sense of control over the stressful, unpredictable situation of living with and surviving cancer. Ask questions. Visit our Educational Resource Rooms and experience the many support groups and inservices offered for cancer patients and their families.
Cancer Resource Room: Cox Building Room 110 617-724-1822 Mon.-Fri. 9:00-5:00 p.m.
Eleanor and Maxwell Blum Learning Center: White Building First floor
American Cancer Society (Hope, Progress, Answers) 1-800-ACS-2345
American Cancer Society - Cancer Survivors 1-877-333-HOPE