Cancer Care is not a sprint. It is a marathon. Consistent, continuous and committed care for cancer patients are keys to providing quality of life and enduring long term cancer treatments.
#1C – CONSISTENCY: Care givers must be able to quickly learn the information about the patient’s diagnosis and treatment plan. Essential that care givers are emotionally and physically healthy at all times whenever possible. The caring and patient responsibility begin immediately.
BE INFORMED- While medical records are available online, printed copies of medical records, blood work results, diagnostics test results, medication lists, 24-hr or on call doctor/medical staff contact information, hospital contact information etc must be at your disposal anytime and anywhere. Keep all that information in a binder for easy access. Create a care bag in which important stuff like medication, binders, mints, extra clothes or whatever your patient may need available. Keep it handy because you will never know when you need them. The less stressful for the care giver the better care for the patient.
BE A PATIENT ADVOCATE. Know your patient’s medical records. Do your reading and research ahead of time so that you may be familiar with symptoms and side effects of any medical procedures and prescriptions. Doctors see hundreds and hundreds of patients each day so don’t expect them to know your patient instantaneously. Being familiar with the patient’s information enables the care giver to make informed decisions with doctor and medical professionals.
BE INVOLVED BUT BE MINDFUL OF FAMILY MEMBERS SOLELY MAKING THE DECISIONS – As a family member, we feel the need to help out and sometimes make decisions for the patient without any consultation and counseling with them. Unknowingly sometimes, we cross the boundaries of letting the patient make decisions for their well being. Either we consciously or unconsciously think that they are unable to make a decision or not, should not be an excuse. It is important for the patient’s healing that they are empowered to make their decisions at all times.
My experience with my husband was tough with regard to making cancer treatment decisions. I was opting for natural and holistic treatments but family members agree more towards chemo therapy. We ended up balancing both forms of treatment. Towards the end my husband was very emotional and didn’t want to continue chemo, he realized the havoc chemo brought to him . We ceased the chemo treatment right away as he requested. Bottom line the patient has to make the decision of whatever they feel is right for them.
#2 C- CONTINUOUS CARE – Cancer treatment is a marathon. Plan for caring long term. Evaluate your financial resources and commitment physically, emotionally and psychologically.
FINANCIAL COMMITMENT – Let me share some of the finances behind cancer in the hopes that it might help others in the process whether they have just been diagnosed or in the midst of a long cancer treatment.
- INSURANCE AND SPENDING ACCOUNTS -Avail of health insurance coverage and spending accounts from your employers. Co-payments can easily add up.
- LONG TERM CARE and SHORT TERM DISABILITY BENEFITS- For a fraction of the cost of at least $30 a month, you can avail of the long term care and disability benefits from your employer. When a cancer patient becomes unable to work full time and will need to go on short term disability , disability insurance is beneficial .
- SUPPLEMENTAL INCOME INSURANCE – Supplemental income insurance is affordable. Make you sure you evaluate your best options.
- SSS/GOVT DISABILITY BENEFITS – Don’t count on this. It is a long and tedious process to apply. If cancer patients who might be in luck or they are in retirement age, they may be approved to received them only after 6 months later. Hope you are still alive then to get your benefits.
- CANCER INSURANCE – They say in most cases cancer is hereditary . There are cancer insurances available in the market which can cover treatments.
- EMERGENCY FUND – 6-12 MONTHS SAVINGS – Always important to have a savings of up to 6-12 months as an emergency fund.
#3C – COMMITMENT- Cancer care is long term. As a care giver, having strong support systems from your family, friends, pastor and your community will help you get through the patient’s recovery phase. Spent time and allow yourself as a care giver to be taken cared for. The role as a care giver is to be there for the patient during their most challenging time of their lives. Longevity and healing is the goal to recovery and we hope for a positive outcome of the journey.
Cecilia Ramirez, President and CEO, St. Michael & Company