Tag Archives: Management of cancer

Shocking treatment of elderly on NHS

Elderly cancer patients

 

 

“under-treated” on NHS

 

Queen Elizabeth II, left, and , right, are see...

Two OAPs who would be 'downgraded' with NHS treatment

 

Arrogant administrators make assumptions about the elderly’s ability to cope, a charity has warned.

 

Some are missing out on medicines and support that would give them the best chance of beating the disease, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

 

Figures show older people are less likely to receive surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy than younger people.

Yet in the year when two elderly people are embarking on a gruelling Diamond Jubilee tour, it is time the NHS realised that OAPs today are active and deserve better care.

 

There is “growing evidence” that many older patients who could benefit from treatment are simply not being offered it, according to Macmillan’s report,

The Age Old Excuse: The under-treatment of older cancer patients.

 

One year after Breast Cancer Care’s report Improving Outcomes and Experiences for older women with breast cancer

  • Elderly are put in special Geriatric wards with fewer nurses per number of patients.
  • Not only will you find it more difficult to obtain tests for possible cancers, but according to a report in Global Medical News, “Half of Older Cancer Patients Have Unrecognized Medical Problems”

What needs to improve?

Consider using healthcare professionals to deliver face-to-face breast cancer information, as these are a trusted source of information for older women.

Avoid relying on online information sources, as many older people do not use the  Internet.  Although ‘silver surfers’ are an expanding group, generally they don’t become proficient users until after they have been diagnosed, and need to find information.

Imagery used in publications should contain older models.

The design of information and support services should involve consultation with older patients.
Healthcare professionals should identify and address the individual psycho-social needs of older women before and during treatment, and signpost to relevant sources of information and support, including finanial and benefits information, breast prosthesis services and lymphoedema services.  Where possible, ongoing needs should also be assessed during follow-up consultations.

 

The charity said under-treatment is one of several factors contributing to around 14,000 avoidable cancer deaths among over-75s in the UK each year.

 

The others include late diagnosis and a higher incidence of cancer among older people.

 

The report said recommendations on treatment are too often being made on the basis of age, regardless of how fit patients are.

 

Many patients also do not take up treatment because they do not have enough practical support to help them at home or with transport.

 

Furthermore, older people are under-represented in clinical trials of new treatments, which means doctors do not have a wealth of evidence on benefits and risks of cancer treatment and impact on quality of life.

As Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says: “Assumptions about someone’s ability to tolerate treatment, quality of life or personal preferences should never be based on their chronological age.”

BEWARE DATE OF BIRTH

 

Currently the NHS channels elderly people into Geriatric Wards, and can mark them down for less-urgent treatment as soon as NHS Receptionists register patients.

First question barked across crowded waiting rooms is DATE OF BIRTH?  Thus automatically identifying anyone over 60.

Hospitals say that this is because data input into the IT system goes by DOB.  Nonsense!  Any data can be used: name, address, etc.  But using DOB makes it easier to shove patients into the ‘give less-attention’ stream.

Data says fewer of the oldest cancer patients (aged over 76) are given the name of a clinical nurse specialist;  as one elderly friend said, “it has taken me three years of fighting before I finally have been given the name of a nurse to contact when I have problems.  Yet all the younger patients who were treated at the same time as me, were given a nurse to help them”.

As The Queen and Prince Philip show, today the elderly lead full and active lives.  Isn’t it time the NHS took this into account, and ensured EVERYONE had access to the most appropriate treatment?

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Laugh 'til it Heals

Christine K. Clifford

comes up with

another winner

 

Never one to miss a good opportunity to laugh whilst having cancer treatment, Christine Clifford believes in a certain Dr. Siegel, who said,

“show me a patient who is able to laugh and play… and I will show you someone who is going to live longer”.

And throughout her new book she comes up with one-liners, two-liners and lots-of-liners that make you laugh out loud, from

Shouldn’t they call it a HERSterectomy?

to one that pokes gentle fun at doctors who consider themselves superior beings, via a description of The Pope:

His Holiness is at the Pearly Gates, not best pleased at having to wait in line.  He sees a man with a stethoscope walk to the head of the queue, and to his astonishment he is let in before everyone else.

He demands to know why the Guardian Angel allows doctors in before him.

The Angel answers, “that was no doctor.  That was God.  He just liked to pretend he is a doctor”.

And whenever you come across one of those pompous beings, I can promise you you will remember Christine’s story – and smile.

Or there was the woman who woke up and thought she was dead.  Why?  Because nothing hurts.  (We can all smile at that).  Or I let out a loud laugh when I read about the woman who insisted she wanted Whoopee cushions placed on the pews at her funeral.

Laughing all the way – that’s the best medicine.

Laugh ’til it Heals  by Christine K. Clifford

 

 

 

 

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Exercise – and shameful record of NHS ignoring benefits for cancer patients

Jogging with dog at Carcavelos Beach

Exercise is good for you both Wikipedia

So why won’t the NHS help

by providing this?

 

David Cameron talks on about obesity – research proves that exercise can help – yet all that happens is expensive advertising campaigns telling us obesity is bad.

When will politicians get real?

Researchers around the world are producing more and more studies on the benefits of exercise, yet NHS does nothing to help by providing suitable classes.  Not everyone can afford a private health club membership.  Not everyone wants to go running in the street, and the local park might not be the safest place.  Yet when cancer patients are now told to go and exercise, hospital gyms are closed to them.  It doesn’t make sense!

Starting off

Boredom was hitting in spades, and sitting around the Cromwell Hospital I had a massive dose – so picked up a leaflet headed Cancer Recovery Exercise Programme.  It would give me something to do, my insurance company was in a benign mood – so I went for it.

And its founder, Matt Hickey, was one of those evangelists whose words made sense.  And his exercise programme helped me get better so much quicker that my doctors were astonished.

Macmillan agrees

Now the charity say that research proves that inactivity risks long term health of 1.6 million cancer survivors, and are calling for exercise to be prescribed.

  • Doctors fail to inform cancer patients about benefits of exercise
  • 1.6 million cancer survivors1 could be at greater risk of serious long term health problems
  • some are at greater risk of recurrence of cancer because they are not physically active enough

Their recent report,  Move More, reveals startling new evidence showing just how important physical activity is to the recovery and long term health of cancer patients. Four key findings in the report are:

  1. breast cancer patients’ risk of recurrence and of dying from the disease can be reduced by up to 40% by doing recommended levels of physical activity
  2. bowel cancer patients’ risk of recurrence and of dying from the disease can be reduced by around 50% by doing significant amounts of physical activity
  3. prostate cancer patients’ risk of dying from the disease can be reduced by up to 30% by doing recommended levels of physical activity
  4. After treatment all cancer patients can reduce their risk of getting side effects of cancer and its treatment by doing recommended levels of physical activity. These include fatigue, depression, osteoporosis and heart disease.

Yet despite strong emerging evidence that being physically active could dramatically improve cancer patients’ recovery and long term health, a survey by Macmillan Cancer Support found that

  • many health professionals are not aware of this
  • the majority are not talking to their patients about it.

Over half (56%) of GPs, practice nurses, oncologists and cancer nurses do not speak to their patients about the possible benefits of physical activity, or, at best, they speak to just a few of them.

Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support said:

“The evidence in our report, Move More, shows just how important physical activity is to the recovery process of cancer. Yet very little attention to its benefits is given by health professionals or by those commissioning health services.  It is essential that physical activity services are available and ‘prescribed’ to all cancer patients.

“Cancer patients would be shocked if they knew just how much of a benefit physical activity could have on their recovery and long term health, in some cases reducing their chances of having to go through the gruelling ordeal of treatment all over again.

What type of exercise is best?

It doesn’t need to be anything too strenuous – what about

  • gardening
  • going for a brisk walk
  • swimming
  • cycling

What happens if you need gentler or more specialised exercise?

Sitting in just about every hospital that treats cancer patients is a large room, full of expensive equipment, but under-utilised:  the Physiotherapy Department’s Gym.

The equipment can help with all kinds of exercise;  this doesn’t have to be ‘gung-ho let’s go for the burn’ type – but using bouncers for gentle up-and-down leg movements can be helpful.  So can using treadmills for gentle strolls – and realising that what is probably more beneficial than setting machines to go faster, is to make them incline more.

Just rolling Swedish balls around, sitting and balancing on them, pushing them up the wall – can loosed tired muscles and get blood activated.

Exercise doesn’t have to be fast and furious – but it needs to be tailored to every patient’s specific needs.  And it needs physios that understand the requirements for individual patients’ needs.

Taking exercise on

Traditionally cancer patients were told to “rest up” after their cancer treatment and to “take it easy”, yet Move More shows that this approach is outdated and could actually put cancer patients at risk.

Jane Maher, Chief Medical Officer of Macmillan Cancer Support and leading clinical oncologist said:

“The advice that I would have previously given to one of my patients would have been to ‘take it easy’. This has now changed significantly because of the recognition that if physical exercise were a drug, it would be hitting the headlines.

“There really needs to be a cultural change, so that health professionals see physical activity as an integral part of cancer after care, not just an optional add-on.”

Jane, 57, from Christchurch, took part in a ‘prescribed’ exercise course at her local hospital, following treatment. She says:

“Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer I didn’t really do much exercise. I felt pretty down and exhausted after my treatment – it really knocked it out of me.

“I was referred to the BACSUP programme9, where I was given 12 weeks free use of the gym and regular meetings with a specially trained fitness instructor. They suggested I go along to a dragon boat racing group for women who’ve had breast cancer. I loved it so much, I’m still taking part.

“I feel like a completely different person. I’m much more confident, am much less tired and feel so much better. Who could have imagined me being so full of life after everything I’ve been through?”

So why can’t we ALL benefit?

Jane was lucky enough to be in a position to get the BACSUP programme, but ordinary patients, if they suggest to their cancer centre that they would like something similar, are met with blank stares, or, even more unforgiveable, “we don’t do that – you’ll have to go privately”.

So all you hospitals with gyms, hang your heads in shame.  You are being dogs-in-the-manger.  You could so easily set up classes for ALL cancer patients – yet you let NHS equipment lie idle and under-utilised until maintenance comes in and hangs a sign ‘out of order’. 

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ASCO confirms survivors suffer long after treatment

The Ward Building at the Northwestern Universi...

Northwestern University, Chicago Wikipedia

Chicago University study confirms cancer patients continue to have problems – long after treatment finishes

 

Amongst all the ‘stuff’ you are given at diagnosis, did any of it say that cancer was going to be a long journey, and we would need patience to handle problems?

And were you told to see XXX if you have unexplained symptoms?

No? You are not alone.

Talk to any survivor, and we generally end up saying how frustrating it is not to be told the truth.  Left floundering around, we have to sort out our own medical treatment for the unexplained conditions that come through the door to attack us when we should be able to get on with life.

 

Most Doctors still have no idea

During the last Macmillan Conference, a doctor asked, “why don’t cancer patients just get on with their life after treatment?”

He was very lucky not to be lynched – but survivors just took this statement as as an indication of how few doctors understand that the after-effects of the drugs they are prescribing can last years after treatment is over.  But they don’t care.  But by that time the patient is long gone out of their orbit and they never get to see what happens – often years down the line.

At last – a University highlights this problem

But, according to a new study at Northwestern University, Chicago, it would appear that many of the people who are lucky enough to get cured of cancer with existing treatments, tend to continue experiencing health problems.

The research showed that the most common issues related to chronic pain and fatigue, loss of sleep or poor sleep quality. These effects were found to span as much as 3 to 5 years after the initial cancer treatment had been concluded.

The work was carried out by experts at the Northwestern University, and was the largest, most comprehensive research carried out on this population subgroup to date.

What do cancer survivors want?

Experts determined that cancer survivors are all very eager to return to their former, vital selves after treatment concludes. However, this usually does not happen right away, much to the disappointment of patients, friends, family and doctors alike.

The intensity of the issues people face ranges from moderate to severe, and this came as a shock to the research team.

Scientists were also surprised to learn about how long the effects endured

Highlighting the fact that patients are seldom listened to!

According to Lynne Wagner,  associate professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and co-investigator of the new research effort,  “we were surprised to see how prevalent these symptoms still are. This is one of the first looks at what’s really happening for survivors in terms of symptoms and treatment among community-based treatment settings across the US”.

Lynne is also a clinical health psychologist at the Northwestern Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center.

American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)

Details of the study were presented in June at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.  This is one of the two most important cancer conferences in the world – the other probably being San Antonio Conference for Breast Cancer.

Reporting at the conference, Lynne commented “We don’t have a great system to provide care to cancer survivors. Cancer survivors are left trying to put the pieces together to find optimal care,”  she went onto say.

“They ideally need to see someone who is knowledgeable about the long-term affects of treatment,” she says. Drugs are also a problem for this group, especially when it comes to controlled substances.

“It is acceptable for someone actively going through cancer treatment to have pain medications, but when they transition to being survivors, that acceptance goes away. If they ask for pain medication again, doctors may worry that they are getting addicted,” the expert concludes.

Enfin

What is worrying is that any cancer survivor could have told the researchers exactly the same as their findings.  Just proving no-one listens to patients, even in the United States.

Still, it’s now down in black and white – so at least we know we aren’t being wimps when we make a fuss!

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Christie's hard work for cancer patients pays off

The Christie presented with Comprehensive

Cancer Centre accreditation certificate

 

At last – cancer patients in Britain may be getting European-standard cancer treatment frequently mentioned by Cameron and Lansley.

Last week The Christie in Manchester became the first centre in the UK to receive the Comprehensive Cancer Centre accreditation as a stamp of excellence.

The prestigious certificate was presented to The Christie alongside four other European cancer centres at the event:

  1. IPO Porto (Portugal)
  2. IPO Coimbra (Portugal)
  3. FIVO Valencia (Spain)
  4. and The NKI-AVL Amsterdam (The Netherlands).

Accreditation is awarded to specialist centres that offer a wide range of cancer treatments, undertake world-class research and provide education to the highest standards.

Medical director at The Christie, Dr Chris Harrison, received the certificate from the Organisation of European Cancer Institutes (OECI) president Marco Pierotti and Wim van Harten, president elect, during the annual general assembly in Holland. Dr Harrison was elected to the OECI accreditation board in 2010, and plays a key role within the organisation.

This accreditation means The Christie joins world-leading cancer centres such as the Karolinska in Stockholm, as well as centres in Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.

Dr Chris Harrison, who has also been appointed to the OECI board, said; “I am delighted that the treatment, care and research delivered by The Christie, that we are so proud of, has been officially recognised at such a high standard by fellow professionals.

For those of us who write about cancer, and cringe at the arrogant way some other UK centres talk about themselves, it was delightful to read the humble way that The Christie is aspiring to be a comprehensive centre, rather than assuming it might be.   “This accreditation follows a robust external audit by our European counterparts and takes us one step closer to our vision of being a world-leading comprehensive cancer centre. It will be an honour to receive this certificate on behalf of everyone at The Christie who work tirelessly for cancer patients.”

The Organisation of European Cancer Institututes (OECI) is a partnership between around 60 leading cancer centres across Europe which set standards in cancer services across the continent. The Christie was the first NHS hospital to be voted on as a member in 2007 and the OECI accreditation programme was launched in October 2008.

Some other members centres (abbreviated names) are Jules Bourdet, Helsinki Univ., Institut Curie; Gustav Roussy; Dresden Univ.; Institut Tumore Bari; Institut Veneto;  CRO Ariano;  Ospedali Bellinzone; Erasmus Medical Centre, etc.

The Christie in Manchester treats more than 40,000 patients every year.

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'Getting over' cancer isn't easy

Friends who say “you are lucky”

risk a bashing from survivors


When my mother had cancer in the 60s, she spent weeks being cossetted in hospital…..

But left without a single pill or drug to take.

She lived for another 50 years, and had few after-effects.

Contrast her life after cancer with that of today’s cancer patient

Who often feels neglected, abandoned or just not listened to by doctors who are too busy to listen to our concerns – they are getting on with treating the next patient

  • Our generation will – on average live a lot longer
  • But we have to live with depression and after effects of all the drugs, chemo and radiotherapy that bombard our bodies.
  • Yes, most of us are happy that these aides are there to help up live longer.  BUT the downside is……
  • You expect to be elated, but, as a ground-breaking new book reveals, cancer survivors are often left feeling depressed, exhausted and even angry.

What type of people would benefit from The Cancer Survivor’s Companion?

More people than ever are surviving cancer. But many struggle with life after the disease, as explained in a revealing new book by psychologist DR FRANCES GOODHART and health journalist LUCY ATKINS.

“People who are getting on with their life, are managing, functioning, but are finding that when they get their head on their pillow at night then the worrying thoughts crowd back in – they find that they are just not feeling that they are back where they want to be. They are people who are really struggling psychologically and probably need one-to-one back-up.”

The authors identify some of the most common problems . . .

Depression

Low mood — or even depression — is one of the most common side-effects of cancer survival. Research has indicated that between 25 and 40 per cent of people may go through some depression after cancer.

Sometimes this feeling kicks in almost as soon as treatment ends, but it might also hit you months or even years later. There are many reasons why your mood might plummet after treatment, but the basic summary is simple: you have been through a very tough experience, physically and emotionally, and it takes time to recover.

You are not mentally ill, you are not ungrateful or a wimp, and you do not automatically require professional help (though you may find this useful). You’re just feeling sad.

Your own expectations about life after cancer also play a part. Often people who are going through cancer treatment make deals with themselves about what they’ll do if and when they get the all-clear.

‘I told myself, and my wife, that if I got through this I would put the rest of my life to good use,’ says Keith, 45, a leukaemia survivor.

‘We talked about how I’d leave my boring job in accounts. We’d set up a residential home together to provide a loving and homely atmosphere for elderly people in their twilight years.’

But the pressure ‘to make the most of life’ can — and often does — backfire. It can feel overwhelming. And this can leave you very confused, lost and low.

Then there is the huge hit your body has taken. You may be scarred and shaken up. You may have suffered enormously. You may feel overwhelmed by side-effects, such as fatigue, mobility difficulties, pain, discomfort or lymphoedema (swelling). On top of this, your general strength and fitness will probably have dimisnished.

Victorians

The Victorians had a concept of ‘convalescence’. They recognised that after a major illness it takes someone time to recover and regain their strength. But over the years — maybe because of the amazing advances in medical treatments — we’ve somehow lost this valuable idea.

My mother spent weeks in hospital after her mastectomy.  Today’s patient is chucked out of hospital one or two days post surgery, carrying disfiguiring drips, mentally bruised and battered, and told “you’ll be fine”.

The expectation these days is that you should be raring to go the moment you are discharged (or as soon as the time between follow-up appointments is lengthened). Instead of telling yourself you shouldn’t feel low, allow yourself time to feel this way.

Sadly, you can’t pack yourself off to a Victorian clinic in the Swiss Alps, but try to work out how to look after yourself while you ‘convalesce’.

There are a lot of practical ways to tackle depression and many effective ones involve simple lifestyle changes. These include eating well, getting active, even just going back to your old ‘grooming’ routines.

Anger

Mixed emotions: Rather than being relieved, many cancer survivors feel angry about why they had to suffer and the treatment they had to endure

If one more person tells me I am so lucky to have got through my cancer, I won’t be responsible for my actions,’ says Gill, 46, a breast cancer survivor. ‘Yes I’ve survived, and I’m immensely relieved about that, but to suggest I’m lucky to have had my breast removed, gone through chemo, lost my hair and had an early menopause shows how ignorant people can still be about cancer.’

Like Gill, you’ve faced your cancer and, after being given the all-clear, are where you have longed to be. So why are you still angry?

One reason is that you still feel threatened. Though cancer is no longer an immediate danger, it might still feel close by. You may be experiencing feelings of helplessness. During treatment, you and your medical team are busy doing something about the cancer.

But when you reach the end of your active treatment phase, even though it’s obviously what you have been longing for, you can end up feeling lost, even helpless.

When active treatment ends, people often begin to look backwards, trying to work out what caused their cancer. It’s common to go over and over this.

If you smoked, drank too much alcohol or did any of the numerous carcinogenic things we all do every day, then you might feel regret and guilt. You may also feel angry at yourself.  Other people’s expectations can be frustrating. Whether they assume you’ll instantly spring back into your normal life or insist on treating you like a fragile flower, it’s common to feel misunderstood.

Anger is not always bad. There are certain situations where it’s useful to get angry: it can help you respond quickly to a threat or motivate you to challenge something unfair or make sure your needs are met.  When the hospital where I was treated brushes off my concerns, I find as a journalist I can give a voice to my anger by thinking ‘laterally’, and writing to the right person to suggest ways to improve the way we are treated.

It’s perfectly reasonable, for instance, to be angry if you hear the local chemotherapy suite is closing. You might use your anger to write letters to the authorities or set up a campaign to keep it open. However uncontrolled, over-the-top or misplaced anger is difficult not just for you, but for the people around you, too.  Similarly, the new Health Bill is closing down many useful and helpful services – so we can rally round and fight closures.

The Hydrotherapy pool at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital was supposedly ‘shut for maintenance’.  This went on and on for seven months;  so those who used to use the pool got together and started writing letters;  yesterday I received a letter saying it had re-opened.  Well done, girls!

There are so many other ways to prove Patient Power works!  So don’t be afraid to tackle them.

Fatigue
Common side effect: Battling the disease physically and emotionally can leave many people exhausted

Fatigue isn’t like any tiredness you’ve had in the past. It affects you both physically and mentally. It can be overwhelming or niggling. Or it can veer between the two.

It is also the most common — not to mention the most frequently ignored — side-effect of cancer and its treatment. Fatigue is a physical and mental response to the stresses and treatments that cancer brings.  It is also a known side-effect of certain medications used in chemotherapy (it can take a surprisingly long time to get over these.)      Other causes include ongoing medication and changes in your immune system or hormone levels.

Your body is also likely to be out of condition — this can make you feel drained and lacking in energy — as, too, can disrupted sleep, which is very common among cancer survivors. Your body has taken a huge hit and needs to be built back up.

You need to learn to prioritise your tasks and to plan ahead to allow for this prioritising. Pace yourself.  Take a nap EVERY AFTERNOON.  The Victorians knew this was sensible – so did Winston Churchill.

The above includes extracts from The Cancer Survivor’s Companion by Dr Frances Goodhart and Lucy  Atkins, published by Piatkus at £14.99.  © 2011 Dr Frances Goodhart and Lucy Atkins.                                                                              To order a copy for £12.99 (including p&p) call 0843 382 0000.

 

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Helping cancer patients in a practical way

Silhouette of Car with Driver

Image via Wikipedia

Can I help?

Every cancer patient will have well-meaning friends who ask you to tell them what they can do to help.

But this comes at a time when you hesitate to burden your friends – and can’t even think of what needs doing  – or if you could possibly ‘ask a friend’ to do it when they are busy working or looking after kids.

But in the United States there are two very practical ways that people help, which makes a big difference to cancer patients.

1.  Drive patients to hospital appointments

One of most tiring aspects of being treated is having to get to and from the hospital.  In the good old days, my mother had a mastectomy, and stayed in hospital for weeks.  Whilst she was having whatever treatment they gave her, she would be told to rest in bed, given meals three times a day, never had to change a sheet or clean a bath.

Today I hear that if you have a lumpectomy many hospitals are now chucking you out on the same day.  Then the ‘multi disciplinary team’ blithely expect you to handle kids, clean the house, prepare meals and drive yourself to and from daily radiotherapy treatment, or to chemo appointments.  You can be 60 – 80 miles away from the hospital, facing long traffic jams on your way to and from treatment;  added to which there are horrendous car parking charges to be paid.  It’s not fun.

In the States, many local charities form themselves into a group and organise car pools to drive patients to and from hospital treatment.  Your car, often driven by a friendly neighbour, arrives at your door.  You get in, relax – even go to sleep if you want – are dropped at the hospital – then your car driver is there to drive you home afterwards.

There are obviously considerations to face:  insurance;  are car drivers competent;  what happens if a car breaks down, etc.  But different charities in the States have adapted to local conditions, offering slightly different services – but all dedicated to giving cancer patients a better treatment path.

Practical – and something Rotary Clubs, Junior Chambers of Commerce, Womens’ Institute etc. might well consider setting up.

If you are a friend, wanting to help a cancer patient, perhaps you could form a pool amongst neighbours to drive someone to hospital.  And if people can’t give their time, see if they will donate a round trip with a local reputable taxi firm.

2.  Pay for a home spring clean

There comes a time during treatment when you are too tired to flick a duster around, let alone change bedding or hoover the carpets.

Making A Difference One Home At A Time and Cleaning for a Reason

are two of the American charities set up to offer a free house cleaning service to cancer patients.

Basically, the charities work to bring in donations, and also get local approved cleaning contractors to donate X amount of professional cleaning time.

Doing it this way, patients don’t feel neightbours are snooping around their home, and the professionals are used to tackling every hard job that might come their way, so leave a house sparkling.

Hoover® says they are “a proud partner of Cleaning For A Reason Foundation, the national organization devoted to providing clean homes to women undergoing cancer treatment. Hoover® will contribute $1 to the organization (up to $25,000) for every new Hoover or Cleaning For A Reason Facebook connection”.

Fighting cancer is difficult enough, but living with it is even tougher – and that’s where the Cleaning for A Reason Foundation steps in.  This  nonprofit organisation offers free professional housecleaning, and maid services to improve the lives of women undergoing treatment for cancer – any type of cancer.

On their website, Cleaning for a Reason show HOW OUR PROGRAM WORKS

Are you a Maid Service? Interested in becoming a partner in our foundation? Fill out the online form and we will contact you. You must be insured and/or bonded and do background checks on employees.

We’d like to TELL YOU MORE! Sign up for our news and updates below to stay informed with the Cleaning for A Reason Foundation! You can help now.  If you currently use a professional house cleaning service to clean your home, please call and ask them if they’ve heard of the Cleaning For A Reason foundation.    Every day, we recruit a new maid service to join our program and become Partners with a heart and soul for house cleaning.

www.cleaningforareason.org

Take time to devise a personalised after-cancer care plan

American Cancer Society

Image via Wikipedia

After Treatment

‘Must-have’ plan to Protect Your Health


We just aren’t used to the idea of devising a care plan for outselves.

Somehow it’s not British, even though Andrew Lansley is throwing out strong hints that he wants us to take more control over our health.

The percentage of people surviving cancer has increased over the past 30 years. That means more and more people are living life beyond cancer – but with cancer as a part of their medical history.

Now, the American Cancer Society has come up with an After Treatment plan, which is worth looking at to ensure that you are going to get the best of attention once you finish cancer treatment.

Currently, for those of you living in Britain, it makes so much sense to have copies of your medical records in your home.  You then have access to these, whatever happens in your local surgery or hospital.

Even if you don’t have a survivor plan, it’s important to gather and keep records of your treatment information soon after it’s completed. Doctors, hospitals, and clinics often shred or burn records after a few years, and you may no longer be able to get them.  The last Government did come up with a Cancer survivorship plan – but of course that seems to have been ‘forgotten’.

In the future, you will need to provide the details of your cancer care –

  • when you visit a new doctor,
  • or if you have a health problem that is affected by your cancer or its treatment.
  • You may need the details for insurance purposes,
  • or to share with relatives facing cancer themselves.
  • Children and grandchildren may want to know if there is any hereditary component to the type of cancer you had.
  • If you go abroad to retire, you will need this to give to your local doctor

To make sure you have all the information you need in one place, it’s a smart idea to keep a detailed record of your cancer treatment. One simple way to do this is to create a survivor care plan.

Survivor Care Plan

A survivor care plan is really a record of your cancer care that can help you monitor and maintain your health long after treatment ends.

Your plan doesn’t need to be complicated; in fact, it can start with a simple pen-and-paper list of information. At its most basic, your plan should include:

  • The date of your diagnosis and the medical name of your cancer, along with a pathology report of any biopsies you had
  • The name of the medical professionals who cared for you, including the doctor who diagnosed you and the doctors in charge of your treatments.  Write them down – its frightening how quickly we forget names
  • The type or types of treatment you received, as well as any potential side effects or long-term risks of that treatment
  • If you had chemotherapy, the dates of your treatments, names and total dosage of the drug
  • If you had radiotherapyation, the dates of your treatments and the total dosage of radiation
  • If you had surgery, the dates of your surgery and the names of the medical professionals who performed the operation
  • Any complications you had from the cancer treatments or surgeries
  • A list of any follow-up visits and the results of any tests conducted during those visits

You may have to go to different sources to get this information, but you should get it soon after treatment ends. Some doctors and hospitals are now helping patients create survivor care plans as they reach the end of cancer treatment. If you’re working with your health care team, your plan may also include:

* Contact information for support groups
* Other support resources
* Tips for living a healthy lifestyle to reduce your risk of cancer recurrence or new cancers
* A schedule for screening for recurrences or to look for new cancers
* Information about your legal rights regarding employment and insurance

All of this information may prove valuable in the future, so it’s a good idea to keep your survivor care plan in a safe and accessible place.

Remember, treatment may one day be behind you, but caring about your health will always be a priority. Take time to create a survivor care plan now so you can be the best possible long-term advocate for your health.

I wish I had had a Care Plan

On a personal note, I was one of the millions who had polio many years ago, during the great epidemics.  Once we were discharged from hospital, we and the doctors expected to get on with our lives – we were ‘over’ this, we had come through, and weren’t ever expected to land up with complications.

Of course, the moment I get cancer, unexpected complications rear their ugly heads, and every time I have to have an anaesthetic a good anaesthetist wants to know if I were treated in an iron lung, how much polio affected my breathing, etc.  And I don’t know what to tell them – I don’t even know which of the three types of polio I had, which possibly might have a bearing on my reaction to drugs.

So you never know when you might need medical information – don’t overlook its importance.

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