Welcome to our newest issue of CONQUER. We know the value of hearing the experiences of cancer survivors and family caregivers. It helps people to relate, feel a sense of connection, and provides food for thought. We have many stories, with several focusing on breast cancer, including male breast cancer. Pink ribbons are not just for women.
“You will Live” is from a woman who worked in a cancer center when she was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer and how she tackled the disease. She recognized the value of listening to her body and the importance of getting a second opinion. Another story from a survivor also emphasizes the need to listen to your instincts.
Each of us (including me) has turned to various resources when diagnosed with cancer. Learn about how one woman diagnosed with peritoneal cancer engaged her family and friends and relied on her strong faith to fight her way through treatment.
Another story features my multifaceted experiences with breast cancer: first as a youngster when my “other mother” was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, second as a student nurse caring for women undergoing radical mastectomies, and third as a breast cancer patient myself. I am an avid user of humor to get me through tough moments, and I have always said that if I lose my sense of humor then I know I am in big trouble. At last year’s AONN+ national conference, my mom and I did a fireside chat about my experiences and how she felt as a mother witnessing her “baby” go through something she would have preferred had instead happened to her. Parts of that discussion with my mom are included in my article here.
Speaking of humor, read the article by a male patient with breast cancer who used humor throughout diagnosis and treatment. We often refer to humor about cancer being “dark humor.” We know that other patients with cancer “get it,” but the general public usually doesn’t. I bet you have experienced this yourself.
Part of our normal living, being in love, and feeling close to our partner, is the ability to maintain our sex lives despite a cancer diagnosis. In some cases, however, because of the side effects of treatment and other issues, our mojo packs up and leaves us. Is it gone for a while or forever? Read the advice from a nurse who has worked in the oncology field for quite a while.
Cancer isn’t just a shock to our bodies and minds; it’s also a shock to our wallets. We have an article discussing available financial resources that you may benefit from. Previously, the standard of care said that patients must be told the “risks and benefits” of each treatment, so they could participate in the decision-making of their care. About 12 years ago, this was changed to “risk, benefits, and cost.” Yes—cost. But it is still rare that a doctor would know the cost of treatment, and what out-of-pocket expenses you will be incurring. Become aware of these expenses, so that you are not shocked later.
Another article is from an ovarian cancer survivor who discusses her then-financial toxicity experience and the importance of patient empowerment. She is now an advocate for others, including encouraging research efforts to expedite progress in ovarian cancer recognition and treatment.
We have finally entered precision medicine, where we rely on our body’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells in our bodies. It is refreshing to see this now happening in breast cancer.
In our legal corner, read the tips for caregivers who are helping loved ones dealing with cancer. Another article discusses the role of rehabilitation after cancer. Even years after your treatment is over, you may be experiencing pains and physical limitations that could be healed by rehabilitation experts. And it’s never too late to ask for a referral.
So, these are some of the highlights in this issue. Sit down in a comfy chair, with a bottle of water, soft blanket, and start reading!