But - when you actually have cancer, you don't really know what you need to know, what you need to look out for or what you need to ask. So many people face this disease alone, without a true caregiver or someone to help and guide them along the way. I am so fortunate with my background in the Society and having such an incredible supportive husband, colleagues, friends and family -- well I am set up for success in so many aspects. But most are not. Family will be there and try to help - and yet, they may not know where to start.
Ask - what type of cancer, what is the diagnosis, the prognosis and be sure that you get the best care. Find out what your insurance allows to be aware of the financial burden and be sure that you get all that is "covered" for your plan and you follow the guidelines that they have set so that you get the maximum benefit without the stress of trying to back track with rebuttals and more paperwork. For someone who never gets sick this was huge for me to understand the process. Call the insurance company, get to know your case worker and nurse if they assign you one. Make sure that they are getting the information they need to be able to move forward, especially when you are trying to make this all happen fast. Keep track of what is approved, denied, and paid. Then keep track of any bills that may come in after. This has been so hard for me -- I have a notebook and was real good at first, but keeping it all organized it tough. Be sure that when you go to a doctor "out of plan" that it is approved and if possible have the letter in hand of what from that treatment is approved. It takes the stress out later -- believe me.
Bottom line -- this is my advice ...
1. Take control of your care. Be sure you are happy with your doctor and feel that you are getting the right care and direction. Hopefully have someone at your side to help you!
2. Get a second opinion. Get the right diagnosis. Get all the tests done early and wait for a diagnosis and not jump into a treatment plan. Once they start it is more difficult to make any changes if at all possible.
3. Clinical trials? If there is a clinical trial available you need to get some phone calls in early to see if you are a candidate. This needs to be decided right away. Not all cases of cancer have clinical trials associated with them. But if you are a candidate this is another source of HOPE.
4. Find and have hope. Seek support and guidance. Ask for help. You are not alone.
Celebrate you -- celebrate your friends and your family. Live each day to the fullest. Care for others that care for you. Be a friend. Celebrate your community. Celebrate life.
Remember that every day is a blessing. Remember those you may have lost to cancer or who have had influence on your life and your health.
Fight Back. Take charge of your health. Make the first step today. Be healthy. Get started on an exercise plan Make a difference in your community. Relay For Life is a great support system... there are more than 5000 events nationwide.