At LungInjuries.org, we recognize that a cancer diagnosis is devastating. Not only is your life turned upside down by your diagnosis, but so are the lives of those around you. That’s why we have compiled information, resources and advice for patients and families.
Lung injury patients and families embark on a new journey after diagnosis. The truth is that there will likely be ups and downs along the way. We hope that you and your family will find something useful and/or helpful in what we have to offer.
Lung Injury Advice for Patients and Families
If you have lung cancer, adenocarcinoma, mesothelioma or silicosis – you are learning how to live life in a new way. You may be managing a rigorous treatment schedule or have to modify your work life. You may also be concerned about what the future holds for you and your family.
If this sounds like what you are experiencing, here is some advice for patients and families that can help you manage your condition and learn to live life to the fullest given your new situation.
Build a Support Team
One great way that families can support lung injury patients is by building a support team. A support team is a team of people who can offer help and support when needed. Patients often feel that they are imposing on loved ones or friends when they need help, but it is important that there are people around who understand the situation and can offer support.
- If you need help getting to and from appointments, ask your loved ones to create a schedule so you get the help you need without any one person being overwhelmed with tasks.
- If you need help with meals, ask your loved ones to help by preparing a casserole or other dish that can be frozen and reheated as needed.
- When attending appointments, ask your partner or a trusted friend or family member to go with you for support. Ask them to think about questions you may forget, and take notes that you may miss.
Get Follow-Up Care
One of the best ways to manage your symptoms and illness over time is to make sure you have a good follow-up care plan. Even once your treatment is complete, your doctor will want to monitor your symptoms, progress and any side effects. Follow-up care is a great way to address any questions or concerns that may come up as you live life with a lung injury.
Create a Survivorship Care Plan
A survivorship care plan is a good way to organize your current and ongoing care, and manage your symptoms, side effects and other concerns. This plan is individualized, meaning it is created just for you. A survivorship care plan can help you:
- Monitor your health and track symptoms or changes
- Schedule follow-up appointments
- List possible side effects from treatments and track any you have
- Schedule potential long-term tests or exams you need in the future
- Compile a list of questions or concerns for your doctor
- Provide suggestions on ways to improve your overall health and wellness
Keep Your Health Insurance
Once you complete treatment, you may be tempted to stop paying for health insurance. This is not recommended if you have a long-term illness like lung cancer or silicosis. Doctor visits, tests and other follow-up care can be expensive without insurance. And, if you are ever concerned about the illness coming back, you could be facing even more medical expense than before.
Advice for Patients and Families to Improve Health
Part of managing your illness is working to improve your overall health, which will then improve your prognosis. There are several things you can do to improve your health and reduce the risk of certain illnesses returning or worsening. Some of the most important things you can do include:
If you smoke cigarettes, cigars, pipes or e-cigarettes, one of the best ways to improve your health is to stop. Research shows that stopping smoking can improve overall health and increase life expectancy. If you have a disease like cancer, quitting smoking can reduce the risk of it spreading or worsening. If you have a disease like silicosis, quitting can slow down progression of the disease and ease your symptoms.
For family members, remember that if you smoke around your loved one, he or she will still be exposed to the toxic affects of smoking tobacco products.
Secondhand smoke is as toxic as firsthand smoke, and it is in the best interests of lung injury patients to avoid all contact with smoke.
Get Adequate Nutrition
Some studies have suggested that certain diets can help reduce the risk of cancer, or reduce the symptoms or possible complications.
People who have early-stage cancer often have better outcomes when they eat a diet that is high in Vitamin D and other nutrients. Many vitamins and supplements are not approved for treating certain conditions, so it is important to talk to your healthcare team about any vitamins or supplements that may help improve your health.
Reach out for Help when Needed
If you have recently been diagnosed with a lung injury, you may have many questions and concerns that come up throughout your journey. It is important to reach out for help when it is needed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or seek information. Below is a list of organizations where you and your family can find more information and connect to local charities and resources.
- Canadian Cancer Society
- Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada
- Wellspring Calgary
- BC Cancer
- Cancer Care Ontario
- Alberta Health Services
- Saskatchewan Cancer Agency
- Cancer Care Manitoba
- National Cancer Institute
- Wellness Together Canada
By considering this advice for patients and families, you and your family can begin to build the supportive structure you need to manage your illness and live the best life possible.
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