Saturday, November 15, 2008

Been there, done that?
Share your cancer advice

I asked one of my patients years ago about the best advice and the worst advice she'd received during her treatment for breast cancer. I don't even remember what she said was the best so horrified was I to hear that my advice was the worst.

I had told her she should consider quitting her job in order to deal with the upcoming treatment. I meant well; why spend energy on work when you will need all your inner resources to undergo chemotherapy and radiation? Now I know that 1) if you quit work you lose your insurance, and 2) ongoing work may provide a measure of satisfaction and normalcy to a life that has been transformed by a cancer diagnosis. I currently advise newly diagnosed patients to consider filling out paperwork to activate the Family Medical Leave Act so absences for treatment or side effects won't jeopardize their job.

I am collaborating with my friend and colleague Gail Harrison (who has been there/done that cancer journey) on a book for newly diagnosed cancer patients. Please consider sharing your stories if you have been down that road as well, or pass this questionnaire on to a friend or family member who has been through this experience.


Eric, AKA The Pragmatic Caregiver said...

My mom got some excellent advice from a prominent breast cancer expert - "Cancer is not an emergency".

At first, it was shocking, but it really is true: you always have time to get a second opinion, you can postpone chemo to take a trip you've always dreamed of, etc. Doctors assume that patients want to "start doing something" immediately - patients should make their timelines and goals clear - many times, doctors will agree that a few days or a few weeks will be just fine.

kenju said...

I will pass it on to two women, but I can't promise they will respond.

Anonymous said...

you might try contacting to see if she would allow you to post the questionnaire. it is a very active message board with lots of cancer survivors who post all the time.