When they arrive, precision therapies may guide each individual's cancer treatments for improved survival and quality of life. Yet today we can generate more information than can be integrated and analyzed.
Cancer was the first time in my life where I had to be an advocate for myself. Maybe it's pathetic that it took a threat to my life to learn to speak up, but regardless it's a lesson I will never forget.
Once I finished chemo, I shared my experience with every patient I met and urged them to do the same. After talking to other patients I know that not everyone wants a party. I know that not every patient needs 500 people standing by their side to get them through. Not every patient is Kayla.
When day zero comes around, I take one last moment to think about my fear. The fears of what I will definitely experience, the fears of what I might experience and the fears of what I might not experience. And then, finally I do have a choice to make.
"Nothing compares to what you've been through"is the favorite line. These days, my friends rarely share their physical pain with me. And when they do, it is always downplayed as if their pain is not real.. Every time this happens, it reminds me of my new identity: Patient. Cancer survivor.
There remains a systemic disconnect between patients and the community involved in treating them. For decades, the patient experience has been marred by disconnected, uncoordinated care and a focus largely on biomedical needs.
I like to talk to patients and ask them how best to explain complicated medical information, so that every individual can have the information he or she needs to make the best decisions for him -- or herself.
One of the major symptoms of thyroid cancer is being exhausted and depressed and if you are experiencing a tightness in your throat, a change in your voice or swallowing/breathing ability, you need to see your doctor.
Life is complicated. Life after a cancer diagnosis is even more complicated. It can hit you hard, so hard that you find yourself gasping for air. It is never something you can be prepared for, and it leaves you confused, puzzled, and disoriented.
What does taking a single step mean to you? Did you walk to work this morning, or simply walk to the car to drive to work? Did you walk to the kitchen to grab coffee or take the dog for a walk around the block?
Because we have handed over to the medical profession responsibility not just for our bodies but also, somehow, for our hearts and minds and spirit, we believe that those words mean the end of hope and peace and life -- the end of everything.
Cancer was a mixed blessing -- proving since my husband couldn't carry me, he didn't deserve to marry me. But cancer didn't just injure my body; it destroyed me emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and financially.
It is my hope that this overall integrated approach to cancer care will not only be successful in terms of my own long term survival and quality of life, but that it also models for patients and doctors alike that complementary care has an essential role to play alongside conventional care.