Monday, February 17, 2014

Know Your Cancer Treatment Journey

Good Morning Cancer Patients and Caregivers;

Your cancer treatment journey will be filled with numerous unknowns. If you have never been diagnosed with cancer and haven't had previous cancer treatment, you probably don't know what to expect from the cancer treatment journey. When you are diagnosed your oncologist will establish a treatment regime and follow a treatment protocal for your cancer. The oncologist will communicate the treatment protocal to you and will monitor the results of the treatment as it is given. Unfortunately, the cancer patient and caregiver are generally still in shock from the news of being diagnosed with cancer and tend to muddle along through the treatment not knowing what the treatment process entails. Moreover, the less the cancer patient knows and understands about the treatment they are going through, the lower participation the cancer patient has in the treatment process.

When I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, I had no idea what esophageal cancer was, let alone having any knowledge about the treatment regime being prescribed. Since I don't like surprises, and there were an abundance of those during treatment, Linda and I decided we needed to know our enemy (esophageal cancer) and become familiar with the treatment protocal and options I may have. As we gained more knowledge from our oncologist and from research about the cancer, the intense fear we were experiencing began to subside. After about the first month of treatment we were pretty familiar with the process and new the treatment regime and surgery requirements. I didn't like it but at least I knew what the journey would look like as it progressed. The more we learned about the treatment and the progress I was making in the treatment, the more informed we were and able to make rational decisions and choices.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has a valuable web site resource that can provide you with a wealth of information about your specific cancer and the treatment regime you can expect along with the choices that can be made. The site is at Once you have the site up on the home page, scroll down to the section NCCN Guidelines for Treatment of Cancer by Site. This lists all the cancers. Scroll until you find your cancer and click on it. Then click on the NCCN Guidelines for Patients. This will bring up the specifics about your cancer. The one for esophageal cancer is 100 pages long. This is a valuable resource if you want to know what your cancer treatment journey will look like.

I found knowing was much better than being surprised. It gave me the opportunity to ask questions and resolve any anxiety I may have had. Being knowledgeable about the treatment also helped me deal with the fear factor. Know your enemy and your treatment journey so treatment can be done with you rather than to you.

Stay strong, keep your sense of humor and never give up.

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