Survival tales on World Cancer Day

Feb 04, 2015, 08:08 IST | Hassan M Kamal

From diagnosis, through treatment, to adjusting with life afterwards, cancer can be daunting to all involved. On World Cancer Day today, the guide shares a doctor’s advice on how patients and their family members can fight the disease

World Cancer Day

Understand, accept and try to move on with life

Most of the time, patients do not accept that they have cancer, especially if they are still healthy. It takes at least two-three seatings for them to come to terms with it. And at times, patients never return after the diagnosis, thinking that there’s no cure for cancer. But not all types of cancer are incurable. Every cancer is different, and the treatment varies.

world cancer day

Patients have the right to know about the disease
In several cases, relatives do not want the patient to know about the nature of the disease. But, it’s every patient’s right to know what they are suffering from. However, if you still can’t tell them the truth, they should at least, be given a diluted version of their case. They go into shock after learning that they have cancer, but patients have shown a greater will to fight back and became more accepting of treatment after knowing they have cancer.

Beware of the side effects
Treatment for cancer varies depending on the type and stage of cancer. Basically, there are three treatments available — chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. It’s important that the patient and the family understand the treatment and its side effects. Some treatments like chemotherapy can affect their chances of reproduction. So, patients must be aware of the good and bad sides of treatment. Besides, they should also understand that there are ways to preserve male semen and female embryos, for later usage. So, even cancer patients can produce children at a later stage.

There are several ways to release the pain
Cancer is often synonymous with pain. It’s something that most patients and relatives worry about. However, there have been significant development in that area. Now, several methods and medicines are available to reduce the pain. Many hospitals have separate pain management counsellors as well.

Keep the same attendants at all times
It’s ideal that the attendant, be it a relative, family or a hired professional, is the same person(s). The attendant(s) act as a pillar of strength, and a link between the patient and the doctors, and both rely a lot on him. Hence, it’s ideal that the same person take the role of attendant at all times.

Counselling is a must for patients and families
Cancer is daunting to the patient as well as family members. While the patient needs to stay positive, despite the physiological changes that some treatments bring with them, often family members struggle to deal with the challenges. Sometimes, caretakers also need caring, and counselling can play an important role in helping them deal with the changes, and create a positive environment.

Never forget to go for follow up appointments
Most malignant cancers recur two-three years after stopping the treatment. Therefore, regular follow-up check-ups, at least once every four months, is important to keep it in check.

Information courtesy: Dr Boman Dhabar, medical oncologist, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central

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