BECOME PATIENT ACTIVE
INFORMATION ON CANCER FOR PATIENTS AND FAMILIES
BE INFORMED ABOUT YOUR CANCER: IT EMPOWERS YOU
- How will I get through this?
- Why is this happening now?
- Why me?
- How do I tell my wife/husband/children?
- I did everything right and now this!
- How can this be?
- What must I do?
- Should I be seeing an oncologist?
- What do all these words mean?
- How do I decide which option to choose?
- What are my survival chances?
- What will the treatment be like?
The PATIENT ACTIVE Approach
Harold Benjamin, founder of The Wellness Community, developed the PATIENT ACTIVE approach that encourages cancer patients to become active participants in their treatment teams. You should engage with your oncologist from day one, developing strategies and making all treatment decisions together.
According to The Wellness Community, cancer patients have to overcome three major stressors: loss of hope, loss of control and a sense of isolation. You should make every effort to become educated about your illness and treatment and become empowered to determine what and who you need to be part of your healing action plan.
The objectives of the PATIENT ACTIVE
approach are for you to:
- Get to know your healthcare team and become an active partner in your treatment.
- Empower yourself with information about your illness, its treatment and the side effects. See the helpful websites we recommend.
- Develop an action plan for your personal experience.
- Find out about good nutritional guidelines.
- What your cancer diagnosis means ( Asco website )
- What you can expect from your chemotherapy regime ( Macmillan website )
- Keep your treatment on schedule as much as possible.
- Deal with all the aspects of your journey with cancer — the physical, the emotional and the spiritual.( see Cancernet website on emotional aspects of cancer )
- Create a strong support system and surround yourself with the people you choose to have on your team.
- Join a support group – See our list of support groups here.
- Prefer one-on-one support? – See our list of One-on-One Support Options here.
- Need Help, or got a question? See our list of Help Lines and Toll Free line numbers here.
- Limit your contact with people who have a negative effect on you.
- Learn to filter the stories that you are told and make informed choices about what to listen to.
- Set small, achievable goals in all areas of your life.
- Plan some fun events.
It is vitally important that you become actively involved in planning your recovery and developing a personal approach from the start of your treatment. You need an individualized plan that addresses your own needs in all aspects of your life — body, mind and spirit.
Your Experience is Unique!
- Empower yourself with knowledge.
- Use your resources.
- Learn from others.
- Make choices that are right for you.
- Ensure you have a support team you trust.
- Ask questions.
- Ask for a second opinion – it’s your right.
- Developing a healing attitude and adopting healing behaviours are at the heart of this process.
- Embarking on the cancer journey more actively is a choice that only you can make. It is not an easy choice because it requires you to address the challenges of your cancer journey differently.
Planning Your Journey with Cancer
- Keep a log of all your treatments and tests and have your questions ready for your team.
- Develop your own individual plan for your nutrition during treatment — the section on NUTRITION in this booklet gives some basic guidelines. It is advisable to see a dietician or nutritionist as soon as possible after your diagnosis.
- Plan physical activities and exercise like yoga, walking, pilates yoga and swimming while you are in treatment. This will help you deal with treatment side effects. But listen to your body.
- Create a plan to deal with the side effects you anticipate from your treatment. You may not experience all of them, but being prepared will help you manage feelings of anxiety and stress if and when they do occur. Your treatment team will guide you with this.
- Plan your support structure and who you want to have close to you at this time. Ask for help and use the help close friends offer. Choose a few people you trust to talk to and protect yourself from telling and retelling your story — it can be traumatising. Delegate one of your family members to communicate with friends and family and save your energy!
- It is vitally important that you learn to deal with the emotional impact your cancer has on your life. Stress, anxiety, fear and depression can leave you feeling overwhelmed and disempowered and can impact your immune system negatively. Expressing your emotions forms part of your healing practice, so ensure you have someone you trust to talk to. Specialised healthcare professionals can assist you in dealing with your emotions. The sooner you get help with this aspect, the better you will respond to the challenges of your cancer journey. It is part of your new reality of coming to terms with your cancer and will support your healing process.
- Think about the kind of spiritual support you need and who can provide it.
- Plan for fun with family and friends. You need to live your life despite the cancer.
- Plan how you are going to deal with work issues.
- Develop a plan for financial issues.
- Plan how you can rest and enjoy quiet times during your treatment to reflect and catch your breath. Practice Mindfulness on a daily basis: it will help you reduce stress and anxiety and will facilitate healing of your body, mind and spirit.