Members of cancer support groups may be particularly helpful in this area and can provide tips that have helped them and others. Also consider how treatment will impact your daily activities. Ask your doctor whether you can expect to continue your normal routine. You may need to spend time in the hospital or have frequent medical appointments. If your treatment will require a leave of absence from your normal duties, make arrangements for this. This can improve your energy level. Choose a healthy diet consisting of a variety of foods and get adequate rest in order to help you manage the stress and fatigue of the cancer and its treatment.
Exercise and participating in enjoyable activities also may help. Recent data suggest that people who maintain some physical exercise during treatment not only cope better but also may live longer.
Often friends and family can run errands, provide transportation, prepare meals and help you with household chores. Learn to accept their help. Accepting help gives those who care about you a sense of making a contribution at a difficult time. Also encourage your family to accept help if it's needed. A cancer diagnosis affects the entire family and adds stress, especially to the primary caregivers. Accepting help with meals or chores from neighbors or friends can go a long way in preventing caregiver burnout.
Determine what's really important in your life. Find time for the activities that are most important to you and give you the most meaning. If needed, try to find a new openness with loved ones.
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Share your thoughts and feelings with them. Cancer affects all of your relationships. Communication can help reduce the anxiety and fear that cancer can cause. Maintain your normal lifestyle, but be open to modifying it as necessary. Take one day at a time.
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It's easy to overlook this simple strategy during stressful times. When the future is uncertain, organizing and planning may suddenly seem overwhelming. Many unexpected financial burdens can arise as a result of a cancer diagnosis. Your treatment may require time away from work or an extended time away from home.
Consider the additional costs of medications, medical devices, traveling for treatment and parking fees at the hospital. Many clinics and hospitals keep lists of resources to help you financially during and after your cancer treatment. Talk with your health care team about your options. Sometimes it will feel as if people who haven't experienced a cancer diagnosis can't fully understand how you're feeling.
It may help to talk to people who have been in your situation. Other cancer survivors can share their experiences and give you insight into what you can expect during treatment. You may have a friend or family member who has had cancer.
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Or you can connect with other cancer survivors through support groups. Ask your doctor about support groups in your area or contact your local chapter of the American Cancer Society. Online message boards also bring cancer survivors together. Sometimes, fluid collection in the throat can result in ragged breathing, which can be aided by turning to one side or by a quick clearing procedure your doctor can perform. Address skin problems. Facial dryness and irritation from spending lots of time in a prone position can be an unnecessary discomfort in end-of-life scenarios.
As we get older, skin problems become more significant, making them important to address swiftly. Keep your skin as clean and moisturized as possible.
Use lip balm and non-alcoholic moisturizing lotions to keep chapped skin softened. Sometimes damp cloths and ice chips can also be effective at soothing dry skin or cotton mouth. Sometimes called "bed sores," pressure ulcers can result from prolonged time in a prone position. Watch carefully for discolored spots on the heels, hips, lower back, and neck.
Turn from the side and back every few hours to help prevent these sores, or try putting a foam pad under sensitive spots to reduce pressure. Try to manage your energy levels. The routine of being in the hospital will take a toll on anyone, and the constant blood pressure checks and IV drip can make it difficult to sleep.
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Be honest about your energy levels, any nausea, or temperature sensitivity you're experiencing to get as much rest to be as energetic as possible. Occasionally, in end-of-life scenarios, medical staff will discontinue these types of routines when they become unnecessary. This can make it much easier to relax and get the rest you need to stay energetic and somewhat active. Ask questions and stay informed. It can get quickly overwhelming, confusing, and frustrating to be in the hospital and feel like you're not in control of your own life anymore.
It can be very helpful emotionally to stay as informed as possible by using your doctor questions regularly. Try to ask these types of questions to the doctor in charge: What's the next course of action? Why do you recommend this test or treatment? Will this make me more comfortable, or less? Will this speed up or slow down the process?
What does the timetable for this look like? Prepare an advance directive. An advance directive is basically just a written document or a series of documents explaining what you want to have happen during your end-of-life care. It may outline a variety of topics, including your wishes for your care, should you become incapacitated, as well as naming proxies and a power of attorney. These documents will need to be drawn up by attorneys and notarized.
These aren't likely things that you'll want to have to spend a lot of time dealing with yourself, so it's common to delegate these tasks to others. Prepare for the distribution of your estate. There's a lot of comfort in knowing that you've taken care of everything ahead of time and haven't left big or stressful decisions to be made after you're gone. If you're up to it, it's important to have legal documents drawn up.. A living will describes the type of healthcare you hope to receive and whether or not you'd like to remain on life support, and under what circumstances, should you become incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions.
Living wills can be prepared by attorneys and should be prepared ahead of time. Last wills are designed to designate property to beneficiaries, assign guardians for minor children, and elucidate any last wishes. This is somewhat different than a living trust, which will transfer property immediately, as opposed to after your death. Consider naming a health-care proxy.
In some cases, it may be good for you to delegate these responsibilities instead to a proxy, in the event that you're unwilling or incapable of making these decisions for yourself. This is often an adult-aged child or spouse, who will be tasked with making choices regarding your health care as things progress. Consider naming a health care power of attorney, if necessary. In some cases, it may be difficult to choose or assign proxy responsibilities to a private party, and you may wish instead to assign them to an attorney.