Taking control of your cancer journey

(BPT) – Each year, an estimated 650,000 people in the United States undergo chemotherapy in their battle against cancer. This experience can be a lonely and isolating time for patients and their caregivers, and despite all the educational resources available today, many people continue to feel overwhelmed and uninformed.
“As a nurse, I always tell my patients that the more information they have, the more prepared and empowered they will feel in the face of cancer,” says Paula J. Anastasia, an oncology clinical nurse specialist in Los Angeles.

To help address this critical need for disease and treatment information, Amgen has teamed up with the Cancer Hope Network to launch ChemoCoach.com. This newly-enhanced website provides helpful tips for patients, survivors and caregivers on all aspects of living with cancer, including chemotherapy and its side effects.

The website offers customized information based on where a patient is in their cancer journey at any point in time. Useful tips such as talking with your doctor, scheduling chemotherapy sessions, understanding blood cell counts and advice for eating well are just some of the topics addressed.

In addition to information, families facing cancer may also need emotional support. Cancer Hope Network offers patients and caregivers the opportunity to talk directly to someone who has had similar experiences and challenges. Natalie Fox, director of Patient Outreach at the Cancer Hope Network says, “We want people dealing with cancer to feel that they are not alone on this journey.”

The professionals at ChemoCoach.com and the Cancer Hope Network offer some advice for caregivers caring for loved ones with cancer:

* Ask for help. Often when caring for a loved one, caregivers can become overburdened. Be sure to reach out to family and friends for back-up help.

* Accept help. Have you said “no” to someone who has offered to drop off a meal or pick up prescriptions? Next time, say “yes.” Allow others to pitch in.

* Take care. When scheduling medical appointments for someone else, it’s easy to forget your own wellbeing. Keep up with your checkups and screenings.

* Rest. Providing care can frequently mean long hours. Schedule daily breaks to help relieve your body of stress; make sure you’re getting enough sleep.

* Eat well. Snacking on the go and skipping meals can easily become routine when your focus is on someone else. Eating healthy is the key to your own health, and gives you energy to care for others.

* Plan recreation. When helping a loved one full-time, it’s easy to stop doing the things you enjoy. Remember to engage in the activities you like, even if it’s just a quick walk around the block.

* Write it down. You don’t have to commit everything to memory. Use calendars, online reminders and smartphone to-do lists to keep you organized. Having a list can ease the burden of trying to remember everything.

* Talk to someone. Whether you chat with a neighbor, call an old friend or get in touch with Cancer Hope Network – sharing your feelings can be a relief.

Remember to always speak with you your doctor if you have any specific questions about chemotherapy or its side effects.