gdc
From Your Navigator

Don’t Allow Cancer to Derail Your Future

Celebrate milestone events and keep long-term goals. Don’t give them up to cancer!
June 2018 Cancer Immunotherapy
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, ONN-CG
26-year cancer survivor
University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer; Director, Cancer Survivorship Programs at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins

It is common that when people are diagnosed with cancer, the rest of their life goes on pause. That may very well have happened to you. However, it is important not to allow cancer to derail your life while going through treatment, or even after your treatment is completed.

Here are some recommendations to help prevent that derailment from happening to you.

Milestone Events

Make your cancer specialists aware of specific life milestone events that are coming up during the time that you will be undergoing treatment. Request that they work around these events rather than you are going to miss them all together, or equally worse, you’re feeling rotten while attending them.

For example, a newly diagnosed patient with breast cancer was told by her breast surgeon that he was scheduling her for the mastectomy with reconstruction to take place 2 weeks from now. She said okay, believing that it needs to happen fast, or else the cancer would spread.

What she didn’t tell him was that her daughter was getting married in 3 weeks. That would mean that the mother of the bride would be feeling exhausted, likely in pain, and would have Jackson-Pratt drains underneath her clothing, that might even show. Her navigator learned of this, contacted the surgeon, and the surgery date was moved to 3 days after the wedding.

The surgery date was arbitrarily chosen by the operating room scheduler, who saw there was time available in the operating room in 2 weeks. The date had nothing to do with urgency to get the cancer out. It was fine to wait up to 6 weeks from the date of her biopsy. So the patient enjoyed her daughter’s wedding, drain free and pain free.

Long-Term Goals

Make your cancer specialists aware of your long-term life goals, too, so that you can remain on track to achieve those goals and enjoy them.

Here is an example. A young woman diagnosed with cancer who was working as a bank teller in town told her navigator that she was hoping to have a family in the future. She was also studying to become a concert pianist.

The navigator was able to get her to have fertility preservation, knowing that the chemotherapy the woman would be receiving may prevent her from ovulating in the future, thereby making it difficult for her to get pregnant. The navigator also knew that one of the chemotherapy drugs the medical oncologist was planning to give this patient caused peripheral neuropathy, meaning numbness, pain, and tingling of the fingers and toes. This side effect could derail her career goal of becoming a concert pianist.

So the navigator informed the treatment team about this, and they selected a different chemotherapy regimen, a regimen that was just as effective for her and without the risk of this significant side effect that can become permanent for some patients.

Speak Up

Always remember that your treatment team is focused on, well, treatment. You need to speak up, or have your navigator speak up on your behalf, to make your milestone events during treatment, as well as any long-term goals after treatment, remain preserved. Don’t give these crucial things up to cancer. Cancer doesn’t deserve it.

Recommended For You
Financial SupportIssue Introductions
Introduction: Third Annual Guide to Patient Financial Support Programs for Cancer Medicines
By Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, ONN-CG
This Third Annual Guide is provided to you by CONQUER magazine, to help you and your providers, especially your nurse navigator, become more aware of the many financial support services that may be able to help you to receive the best treatment you need and relieve you of the associated financial worries.
From Your Navigator
The Second Set of Ears
By Clara Lambert, BBA
Clara Lambert recommends bringing a "second set of ears" to appointments because people hear things differently and patients are often overwhelmed. A friend or partner can help focus the conversation.
Financial SupportFrom Your Navigator
Role of the Financial Navigator
By Clara Lambert, BBA
Clara Lambert explains the areas addressed by the financial navigator and walks through the role of the financial navigator in addressing the patient's financial burden relative to their care.
Metastatic Breast Cancer
Consider Attending a Metastatic Breast Cancer Retreat
By Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, ONN-CG
Breast cancer survivor and national expert Lillie D. Shockney invites patients with metastatic breast cancer and their caregivers to join one of the breast cancer retreats offered by Johns Hopkins University.
Last modified: July 17, 2018

Subscribe to CONQUER: the patient voice® magazine

Receive timely cancer news & updates, patient stories, and more.

Country