Sunday, April 11, 2010

Do You "ALWAYS" See the Entire Picture?

At first glance you probably see a lawn that has just revealed itself after the winter season and a bare leafless bush.  If that is all you just saw by looking at the picture, then you didn't take the time to see the "entire" shot.  Look very closely again!   Now, do you see something else?  Something that is hidden behind the bush?  It doesn't just instantly reveal itself, but it is there and it's an important feature, as it's the reason why I actually took the time to get my camera out and take a few shots.
As I reflect over the past few years and think of many other cancer patients and caregivers who I have met, I sometimes start to wonder if many of them have taken the time to see the entire picture.  Sounds a little odd, doesn't it?   Let me explain.

  • My first thought of those with cancer is whether or not they actually know what type of cancer they have.  For those of us who are very diligent in keeping a close watch on our loved ones cancer journey, this may seem a stupid question, but in actual fact it is a very real and at the same time "sad" point that numerous cancer patients DO NOT know their type of cancer.  Just yesterday I spoke with someone who's relative has been diagnosed and when I asked what type of cancer she had, they responded with the words "She doesn't know"!!!  The cancer is in her lungs and her liver so she assumes it's lung cancer.  My question is "How the heck can a patient get treated properly for their cancer if their TYPE of cancer has not been determined.  Sometimes a biopsy may be needed to find out the exact cancer type, maybe it can be verified through a blood test, or of course, if the patient has undergone surgery, then the pathology report will identify it precisely, but many are told they have cancer after a CT or MRI and sadly the patient or caregiver NEVER asks what is the TYPE of cancer or KIND of cancer that they have.  There are well over 200+ different types of cancer and check out this link to  find out more information on some of them from A to Z as posted by the National Cancer Institute.  

Cancer can and does metastasize to other areas of your body, so if you have cancer in your lung, that does not necessarily mean that you have lung cancer.

  • My next point here is that many cancer patients and their caregivers NEVER check further through other medium such as the Internet or through associations that deal with specific cancers to see what new treatments or innovations are being developed.  They just accept hook, line and sinker so to speak what their doctor tells them.  Now, after my saying that, you do have to listen to your doctor's opinion of course, but it's always best to research, do your own investigating and link up communication lines with other cancer patients and their caregivers.  I know first hand, that if you sometimes take "only" your doctor's diagnosis, then you can most definitely be headed down a difficult road with no other options.  After all, just think about it a moment, can any one doctor be expected to know everything there is to know about each type of cancer and how to treat each one - the answer is a definite "NO"  so it's up to you to do your homework.
  • Now, there's an entire new post needed for my next explanation of whether or not you are taking time to see the entire picture - that involves your hospital stay - if in fact you do have to be hospitalized at anytime while you have cancer.  You most definitely need someone with you at ALL times to be your second eyes and ears when you are in hospital.  Mistakes can happen in hospitals and I know first hand that they do, so my advice would be to BE WARE if you become a patient there.  I'll leave this topic for another day as I could literally write a book based on my husband's experiences when in hospital.  That being said though, he's also had excellent care and testing but it only takes one mistake to keep you on high alert!
So, my whole point here is to be vigilant with your cancer care and if you are unable to do it, then you must have a caregiver or someone who you trust explicitly to do it for you.  Don't be afraid to ask questions, don't be afraid to disagree with the experts if you know something that they don't and remember that it is your health that is at issue, so you always have the right to speak up!!!

Make sure that you always "SEE THE ENTIRE PICTURE" and that you are not just looking simply at the basics. Sometimes things seem to just blend in and it's difficult to distinguish what is important from what is not!!!

Be vigilant, be curious and be an advocate!

If you still didn't see anything else in my first picture, then here's a closer look


Whidbey Woman said...

Another excellent post!!!!!

Melissa said...

I saw the bird! I guess that's why I'm the vigilant caregiver who spent every single minute at the hospital and many hours researching on the internet.

This is such a great post that everyone should read.

If you don't mind, I'd like to post a link to this post on my blog and twitter account.