Patient-to-Patient: Tips for the Newly Diagnosed
a stageIV colon cancersurvivor, bringsthe perspective of a physicist andelectrical engineering researcher. Alongtime C3 advocate, he servesas Treasurer of the C3 Board of Directors.
• Take a deep breath and don’t rushinto anything. Spend some timelearning about colorectal cancer and your unique case. It’s very unlikelythat a delay of a week or so for studyand consultation will adverselyaffect your outcome.• If possible, take time to get a secondopinion on your diagnosis, becauseit denes your options. Becausetreatments are changing quickly, ageneral oncologist may not have the very latest information about yourspecic disease. But he or she shouldbe willing to recommend where to gofor a second opinion.• If possible, consider a“comprehensive cancer center”which offers a multidisciplinaryteam of medical, surgical andradiation oncologists who specializein colorectal cancer. The centeralso may have more sensitivescanning equipment to provide amore detailed picture of possiblemetastases. Call the C3 Answer Linefor a list of comprehensive cancercenters in the US at 877-427-2111.
wasa healthy 54 yearold when he wasdiagnosed with stageIV colorectal cancersix years ago. FromNorth Carolina, he isa C3 Board member who is active in fundraising, Call-on Congress, andsurvival support groups.
• Don’t just go online and startGoogling your diagnosis. Go to oneor two trusted websites, like C3and the Colon Cancer Alliance or American Cancer Society. After six years at this, that’s still all I need.Start reading some good stories thereand get your mind right.• For every visit, I go in with mynotebook opened up to the pageshowing my questions for that day.You’re giving a message: I won’t behurried out of here; I have questionsthat need to be answered. If you feelthey’re trying to rush you, just be polite but be rm.• Right from the beginning, askfor printed copies of your scan, pathology and all lab results. Therst time I asked, the doctor lookedat me kind of funny, but now thenurse just hands over the reports atthe end of my visit.
was diagnosed10 years ago, andcontinues to live a full life, including arranging a“Survivors at Sea” support group which met during a2009 Holland America cruise.
• There are no stupid questions! Both you and your caregiver can—andshould—speak up with questions,and to ask for advice.• Join a support group. If you can’tnd one, start one. I believe that people involved in support groupslive richer, fuller lives. During ourrecent cruise, ve cancer survivorsand two caregivers met to talk.We discussed implications of reconstructive surgery—body image,self-esteem, spouse interactions. Wetalked about genetic testing, whetheror not to advise children of results,and much more. At the end of thesecond session, one person said hehad never attended a support groupbefore, but when he got home he wasgoing to look for one.
In the next issue: Tips forCaregivers. Send yours toTips@FightCRC.org.
In the rst days and weeks after a diagnosis of colorectal cancer, the world may feel like it’s spinning out of control. Here are some tipsfor those who are coping with a new diagnosis from those who’ve been through it:
Cancer center specialists can—and do—coordinate ollow-upand more traditional treatmentswith your community oncologist.Keep your own record: dateso visits; names o doctors; andcopies o test results.Join a support group. I you can’tfnd one, start one. I believethat people involved in supportgroups live richer, uller lives.