Last updated: November 2022
When someone has been approached with the horrible news of “you have lung cancer”, the flurry of images that goes through someone’s mind, I can imagine is overwhelming. I recall some questions and cases where the family is at a standstill regarding what needs to happen next, and how to get the answers they need as they or their loved one is faced with the inevitable.
I believe many people are struck so hard when they get the news of this diagnosis that they may miss the opportunity to ask what the next steps in this course are. I think the consensus for most is that sometimes much of the information is not properly provided upon being diagnosed. Many people are given a script or plan of action for treatment, but sometimes it can be a gray area for the other part of the conversation, leaving many frustrated and unsure of what to do next.
The diagnosis is expressed so before exiting the room with your doctor, this is the time to breathe, absorb, and approach the doctor with some basic questions about who, what, and why on that visit. I’ve been hearing a lot of people fall into the grievance of the second layer of Q&A that usually follows another visit months later (for most not all cases).
Some questions to consider before the next visit would be:
- Why is the suggested treatment plan necessary for my specific diagnosis?
- What stage am I?
- What can I expect in terms of side effects, if any?
- What new drugs fit my specific diagnosis?
- Are clinical trials an option and how do I go about seeking further guidance on the matter?
It’s so easy to push off those needed appointments after being freshly diagnosed but it’s very important to stay active in meeting those needed resources to help with your care. It may be too taxing to get abreast of all that is needed, so it’s suggested to have someone help you along in making those appointments, and attending those appointments with you. Depending on some facilities they may call and remind you of those needed appointments; however, sometimes it really depends on where your care is; whether you have those reminders or not, being up on those appointments are dire.
Voice your needs
Not only is it important to voice your concerns, but letting your team know that you’re not feeling well is important. If you find a reoccurrence of certain symptoms it doesn’t help to be shy in discussing what you’ve seen and noticed. I find some people may feel embarrassed by how their body reacts when dealing with lung cancer, but that is not the time to shy away from letting the doctors and nurses know what is happening. The team may need to re-tweak treatment or start earlier than anticipated based on the test results or other symptoms that are surfacing; they won’t know to do that if you stay silent.
You are your best cheerleader in asking the questions that need to be asked or having your care partner as your second voice on lingering concerns or just being comfortable. It may not always be the case but most times the team only reacts when you tell them what is exactly going on with you, aside from the lab work and what the scans show...self-advocacy is a must!
The time to fight is now, with integrity, grace, hope, and a smile...when you feel like it
Happy Lung Cancer Awareness Month! What does self-advocacy mean to you?