Things You Need to Know
(by Jim Graham)
Cancer and cancer treatment can do both short-term and long-term damage to your body, and you may or may not get a full explanation of the possible effects that may result. Some of these effects can directly (or indirectly—by causing still other problems) have a substantially negative impact on your life after cancer if not treated by a doctor right away. For example, some treatments cause damage which results in deficiencies of one or more important hormones.
For example, if a treatment causes damage to your thyroid (which controls your metabolism), that will likely result in low thyroid hormone (“Free T-4”). This condition, known as hypothyroidism, can result in symptoms such as fatigue, depression, unexplained weight gain, muscle weakness, muscle aches and stiffness, joint pain and swelling, and so on if not treated. Some of these symptoms may start off slowly, and get more severe over time.
But with proper treatment, these symptoms can be significantly reduced, eliminated, or even prevented.
You are, therefore, advised to contact the American Cancer Society at http://cancer.org / 1-800-227-2345. The ACS has oncology nurses available to answer your questions 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Explain the type of cancer you have, and the kind of treatment(s) you will be receiving. Ask for an overview of the possible side effects, if you should see a doctor to get checked for these, and for any reference documentation the ACS has that they can mail to you. There is no charge for this, and you can always call about any cancer-related problems.
As a general rule, during and after your fight with cancer, remember that the American Cancer Society can be a priceless resource, and you shouldn’t ever hesitate to contact them if you have questions about your cancer, its treatment, and/or its effects on you and what you can do to help yourself feel better.
Another great resource is CancerCare, Inc (http://www.cancercare.org phone: 800-813-4673). Like the ACS, they have some very useful information that they can send to you. Consider them another valuable information resource.
Should you find yourself needing Medicaid, or Social Security Disability and Medicare, especially while you are still in the fight of your life, contact the Patient Advocacy Foundation (http://www.patientadvocate.org/ phone: 800-532-5274). They fought for me when I wasn’t able to. Another great resource, should you need legal assistance, is the Cancer Legal Resource Center (http://www.disabilityrightslegalcenter.org). If you are in need of any legal assistance, this should definitely be your first (and most likely last) stop.
You many find these to be very helpful, too
- angel foundation – Help when cancer strikes
- River Wealth Solutions – Cancer Financial Assistance (http://riverwealthsolutions.com)
Remember, knowledge is power, and from this point forward, as a cancer patient, survivor, and/or caregiver, you need to know as much as you can. It will help. During my first cancer, which tried to kill me multiple times, I found two quotes from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” (1910 Lionel Giles translation) quite valuable to remember. The first is on the topic of knowing yourself and your enemy (the cancer, in this case):
Sun Tzu wrote:
III.18. Hence the saying, if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
That brings up another important topic you REALLY need to know, if you don’t already. You have to fight back. You must always know that you are going to win, and that under no circumstances will you allow the cancer to win. You have to have an attitude…and a mean, angry, and defiant one towards the cancer. Some may claim that this makes no difference. Don’t listen to them—it definitely does. Just ask any oncology nurse. They’re far more likely to tell you that those who come in with a positive, fighting attitude, knowing that they WILL win, are far more likely to do exactly that, while those who think they’re going to die, usually do. And here’s the other related quote from Sun Tzu:
Sun Tzu wrote:
VI.2. Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him.
(Note: if you are interested in getting a copy of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”, you can get it in just about any format, with or without commentary, which can be informative at times, in just about any format you want, from Project Gutenberg, at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/132)