I decided this morning when I woke up that I have got to write a piece about what you can do to help someone diagnosed with cancer. So this blog is called Tips for those New Cancer Patients. These are things I learned from other people which were so valuable to me that I had to share it with everyone so that they would know where to start if they ever had cancer. These tips will also help people support those newly diagnosed.
Get a family doctor, if you don’t have one. All of your information/tests has to go somewhere. Someone needs to be the co-ordinator.
Buy a notebook. In it, RECORD ALL your doctors names/addresses/fax #’s in the front. RECORD All your appointments and key items discussed.
Buy a binder. Every time you have a test/blood work etc. ASK FOR A COPY and put it in your binder. You never know when you need it. If you end up in emergency, previous scans/tests results will speed up the service you will be provided because they don’t have to go running around looking for your stuff. Call an ambulance if you are feeling really terrible. It’s only about $45 bucks and you get seen a lot faster than the usual 4 hour wait. Take your binder, notebook, and list of medications with you.
Get a Handicapped Parking Permit Go to a Service Canada/Ministry of Transportation Place (where you renew your driver’s license and pick up the form). One side, you fill it out, the other side, the doctor fills it out. You might not use it all the time, but when you are feeling really ill after surgery, chemo. or radiation, it will be a Godsend.
Bring a Buddy to your Appointments; especially in the beginning. You will need someone to come with you, in case you get bad news because then everything said after that point goes in one ear and out the other. Your buddy will later tell you what the doctor really said, after the fact; when you are ready. Plus, you will need someone to drive you home. Don’t ask me how many times I cried all the way home after getting bad news. Not good.
After all that you go through having cancer, do yourself a favour and look into Cottage Dreams (Ontario residents) … trust me you are going to need a vacation. Download the application, fill out your part, get the doctor to sign his section and send it in. You may qualify to get a free cottage from June 1 – December ….however, they do charge a $100 administration free. Kind people, earth angels really, have generously offered their accommodations for cancer patients needing some relief from the stresses of living with cancer. If you have a cottage to donate, please help someone with cancer and Cottage Dreams will provide you with a tax receipt for your generosity. Oftentimes having cancer can leave your wallet pretty bare (medications, transportation/parking, special food, massage therapy, physiotherapy, etc.). This vacation is an opportunity to relax and explore a place you have never been to before.
For Accurate Information about various Cancers and Treatments:
Go to Princess Margaret Hospital library (they have great pamphlets/books)
Web-Sites: Check out the Cancer Society for a myriad of services (ie: information, peer support, transportation to chemo. should you need it, etc.)
Wellspring: Check internet for various Cancer programs/support groups.
Gilda’s Club: Support for the Whole Family
Nanny Angel Network
Provides free babysitting for mothers undergoing treatment.
Environmental Working Group Website (www.ewg.org): Find out what’s really in your products and find things that are “safe” for you to use (like soaps, cosmetics, sunscreen and cleaning products).
My favourite book about cancer was The Anti-Cancer book by David Servan-Schreiber.
The best book to help your liver function better is by Dr. Sandra Cabot (The Liver Cleansing Diet Book). I honestly believe you will live longer if you help your liver.
Heating pad (essential when you are in pain)
Himalayan salts/epson salts (excellent way to detox your body after X-Rays, CT Scans, and chemo. and I believe it relieves stress). Put in bathwater; body will absorb nutrients its needs from the salts and release toxins. Seaweed is especially effective. Everyone, whether they are sick or not, should do this every once in a while.
Organic Shampoo/Conditioner/Body Wash (my favourite is from St. Annes Spa….pricey, but I haven’t found anything better that’s truly organic and smells as good as this).
Rescue Me (spray, gum). Relieves stress.
CD’s: Check on the internet for music like:
Music to Inspire Positive Thinking
Music to Encourage Stress Relief
Music to Improve Relaxation
Music to Promote Sleep
The songs on these CD’s have been shown to change your brainwave patterns. They are very calming, uplifting, and soothing.
Religious (?) Our Daily Bread booklets from www.rbc.ministries are a great read. Each day you can read a story that relates to passage in the bible which is meaningful to everyday life. My daughters teacher gave one of these booklets to me a few months ago and I liked it so much, I ordered it for myself.
Organic Lemon (1 juiced every morning with hot water) 15 minutes before you eat breakfast.
Don’t eat strawberries, lettuce, apples, or grapes unless they are organic because they have too many pesticides/chemicals on them (google “Dirty Dozen for the rest of the stuff to stay away from). It takes about 3 weeks of eating organic food before the pesticides start to disappear from your urine, but it can be done.
Edible Arrangements (fruit bouquets in the shapes of flowers) can make for a great gift instead of traditional flowers. They are so pretty, delicious, and healthy too.
Surgery – lip balm, Vitamin C Facial Cream, juicing drinks (if possible), real food because hospital food sucks, spokesperson/someone to stay with you overnight
Chemo: Burt Bee’s Cuticle Cream (if your fingernails start to turn black)
Travel Wristbands for Nausea (worked for me)
I will update this page if I remember more things that helped me cope with having cancer.