Welcome to the August 2020 issue of CONQUER: the patient voice. I hope you are well and being safe. We are living in a time that seems unimaginable, but very real. For anyone currently dealing with cancer and its treatments, you are really going through 2 major life crises at once—cancer and the COVID-19 pandemic. Be vigilant in remaining home when you can and follow the CDC guidelines to keep yourself safe.
In this issue of CONQUER magazine, we feature several articles on young people, some of whom are very young. Cancer doesn’t discriminate by age. It doesn’t care how old you are, what color you are, or what ethnicity. Although most people with cancer tend to be adults or older adults, there continues to be many young adults, teenagers, young children, and even toddlers, who are diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer.
Among the articles in this issue, you will admire a 7-year-old who was diagnosed with lymphoma and is already creating her own legacy in this world, by making her mission raising money for pediatric cancer research. I find this amazing! A true example of paying it forward!
Read also about a teenager who learned that she had to be her own patient advocate during treatment. No doubt she has matured rapidly from such a profound and life-changing experience.
Young adults who are just starting their lives on their own can suddenly be derailed with a cancer diagnosis. It derails their parents too. Everyone, regardless of age, needs family support and a caregiver. Read about a young adult’s experience, who needed her mother at her side, and how the experience brought her family closer together.
Did I just hear you say the word “sex?” Sexuality and cancer are not discussed as often as they should. Doctors may bring up fertility preservation, but sexual health is usually avoided. We need to normalize this conversation. If your doctor hesitates to mention it, take the lead and bring it up. At least discuss it with your oncology navigator to get answers to your questions and even solutions if the treatment causes side effects that may disrupt sexual activity. And check out the resources in this article.
The article on mucositis written by a nurse navigator will be very helpful to anyone battling with that side effect of cancer treatment. Another article discusses the benefits of exercise and cancer rehabilitation. Although the author was an avid exerciser before her diagnosis, she discovered that it didn’t reduce the risk, but she explains why exercise is so important. If you have always been an exercise buff, keep it up during treatment and after treatment. Exercise reduces the risk of cancer, its recurrence, and it helps your heart, lungs, weight management, circulatory system, and the risk of other chronic conditions, such as diabetes.
As I mentioned, we are living in a time that seems like an out-of-body experience or an ongoing nightmare. I hope you have not lost loved ones to COVID-19. That said, it is important to differentiate between side effects from cancer treatment and symptoms of the coronavirus. Read the article that provides guidance regarding GI symptoms.
I hope you and your loved ones remain well and safe. This is a time we will never forget, just as you or a loved one will never forget getting cancer. Remember, if you have financial issues while receiving cancer treatments, reach out to your oncology navigator, who may have helpful resources for you.