Diagnosis of cancer most traumatising discussions patients will go through – Oncologist
A Consultant Clinical and Radiation Oncologist at Evercare Hospital, Lagos has said that a diagnosis of cancer is one of the most traumatising discussions patients will have to go through.
Okoro, multiple cancer specialists explained that the emotional and psychological burden of the disease is occasionally so much for patients to handle which may be the reason why cases of depression in patients with cancer are higher when compared with other non-communicable diseases.
Okoro who is a specialist in malignancies of the breast, genitourinary tract, gastrointestinal tract tumours, gynaecological malignancies, prostate malignancy, and head and neck tumours, noted that such a diagnosis is expected to result in physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual changes in the individual, hence, strategies for coping with the condition necessary to improve treatment outcome.
With cancer as one of the leading terminal illnesses today, he explained further that the most important first step for a patient diagnosed with cancer was understanding the diagnosis and disease process.
“Discussions with the managing physician should provide information on the type of cancer, location of cancer, stage of the disease, is the disease treatable or not, treatment options, side effects of treatment, cost of treatment, what happens if the patient declines any treatment and life changes to expect during and after treatment.
“Having open-minded conversations with your managing physician is of immense benefit as it creates the opportunity for both patient and physician to be on the same page as regards treatment expectations which makes tracking of treatment progress easier. Patients are also encouraged to join support groups which could be institution based or in form of a non-profit organization, these groups usually have members that have undergone or undergoing treatment for similar illnesses and as such lots of coping strategies are discussed and made available to members,” he added.
He further stated that maintaining a healthy lifestyle was also important for any patient being managed for cancer as it will not only improve the energy level, manage the stress and fatigue of cancer as well as its treatment but will positively impact treatment outcomes.
“Choose a healthy diet. Get enough rest and exercise if you can. Patients who can exercise during treatment not only deal better with side effects but also may live longer.
Lifestyle changes will need to be discussed; these changes usually include work schedules as work interruptions should be expected while on treatment, physical activities that form part of the patient’s daily routine will need to be adjusted as disease or treatment conditions may not allow a patient carry out such tasks,” he stated.
He said it was also important for the patient to allow family or friends and in some cases where accessible professional caregivers to assist patients to deal with some of these demands. “It is also important to consider how your diagnosis will impact your finances. A plan for funding cancer treatment is important and such plans must also consider life after treatment. This is a very worrisome subject in developing countries where health insurance coverage is still low and even where present may not include cancer care. Hence most patients will have to fund cancer care out of pocket even when such treatments are usually expensive.”
“Figure out what’s important in your life. Find time for the activities that are most important to you and give you the most meaning. Be open with your loved ones. Share your thoughts and feelings with them and seek spiritual support. Cancer affects all your relationships. Communication can help lower the anxiety and fear that cancer can cause. Always keep a positive mindset, feel free to discuss treatment-related concerns or fears with your physician, and read books, and journal nails related to the chance to get a better understanding of the condition.”