Hearing that you or your loved one has lung cancer can be shocking and overwhelming.
There are many emotional stages that you and your loved ones experience even before a treatment plan is made and a communication plan is needed. One way to help adjust is to be sure you, your family and your medical team have good communication and a solid understanding of each other. By learning communication tips and tools, you’ll be able to advocate for the care you desire and the support system around you will be able to clearly understand your needs and wishes.
You’ll need to speak clearly and openly with your medical team. To make sure you hear your doctor and understand what he is saying, ask questions and verify his answers to you. Make sure your doctor hears and understands your needs and concerns as well. Speak up, bring two lists outlining the concerns that you want addressed during your office visit. Keep one list for you and give the other list to your doctor. Make notes on your list and encourage your doctor to make notes on his list.
Make a plan with your medical team on your diagnosis, the immediate next steps, your treatment options, your exact treatment plan, and what to do when there are side effects. You also need a plan on how and who you will communicate your needs, concerns and wishes to.
If possible bring someone with you to your doctor’s appointments. People hear things differently, which is why it is important to write things down, verify what you are hearing, audio record the visit, and/or bring another set of ears to hear what is being relayed to you. Getting in plain writing a detailed description of your office visit and treatment plan would be ideal but it isn’t always probable or possible, so using one or more of these tools to get a clear understanding of your office visit and expectations will help keep you more at ease as you move forward in your treatment.
You also need to speak clearly with those around you to make sure your needs are addressed. Your family, friends, employers and coworkers want to help you. But they can’t help unless you let them know what it is you need. This can be a challenge for some people who have difficulty asking for help. To help those who have a difficult time asking for help, there are tools like Caring Bridge pages, Meal Train and other websites that allow you to list your needs and things in your everyday life that you may need assistance with. You provide the website to your friends and family and they take it upon themselves to sign up for specific chores and to help with specific needs, like providing meals, yard work, transportation to and from treatments, and even a night out or much needed break for the caregivers.
Nurse navigators and social workers may also be available to help you communicate your needs and find the resources to help you during this journey with lung cancer. There are also services that help with legal and financial needs as well.
For a listing of resources that can help you talk about lung cancer, please visit http://events.lungevity.org/cg/resources.html
What tips or advice would you give someone on the importance of communicating and talking about lung cancer?