NCI Cancer Information Service. This National Cancer Institutes phone and web service provides assistance in English and Spanish covering just about everything having to do with cancer. A very small sample of topics includes diagnosis and treatment, clinical trials, pain control, nutrition, talking with family, and complementary and alternative medicine. Call an information specialist with any questions at 800-422-6237 (1-800-4-CANCER) on Mon-Fri 8am-8pm EST. http://www.cancer.gov
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Cindy’s Hope Chest. This small nonprofit provides support, education, and encouragement for women battling breast cancer. They work with women where they are at the moment; they focus on a global perspective rather than simply providing individually requested services. Call 704-529-2935 to leave a message for a return call any time any day. http://www.cindyshopechest.org
Navigators at CMC (Levine Cancer Institute). Invaluable support from a trained nurse navigator who amswer questions, expedite schedule, educate and suport, work with teams of doctors, help find resources after discharge, and explore and assist with work-related or financial concerns. They work at several hospitals in the region. Call 980-442-2000 Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. http://www.carolinashealthcare.org/levine-cancer-institute-patient-navigators
Navigators at Novant Health Cancer Center. Trained nurse navigators help patients and families reduce confusion and anxiety by helping them to understand their cancers and treatment options at every step of the process. Contact them by filling out thewebform or by phone. Call the interdisciplinary clinic at 704-384-5373 Mon-Fri 9am-5pm (leave msg if necessary). https://www.presbyterian.org/Home/Services/Cancer/OurServices/PatientNavigators/ContactUs.aspx
Find the best team for you. Choose a doctor based not only on the recommendations of professionals, but also on the suggestions of other people with cancer. If you have a choice, visit each doctor once before deciding which one will work best for you.
There is no such thing as a silly question. Most people find it helpful to write down questions before a visit to the doctor. Bring a friend with you to see the doctor; your friend can help you ask questions as well as remember and understand new information.
Take your time. When you have an important decision to make such as choice of a doctor, treatment, or surgery, think it out and confer with friends and others you trust.
Consider joining a support group. The people there are likely to have had experiences similar to yours; they can give you reassurance as well as important facts based on firsthand experience.
Take good care of your body. Find out about good nutrition, relaxation techniques, and anything else that helps your body heal.
Treat yourself well. Celebrate triumphs, no matter how small they may seem. Find any excuse to reward yourself with a massage, walk in the park, or something else which will give you peace of mind and will make your life better. [Editor’s note: Sometimes I celebrate Tuesday with a piece of chocolate.]
Food is love. When taking food to your friend (and to the family, too), ask what they would like and can eat. Use a dish that does not need to be returned.
Make trips fun. Combine a required trip to a physician or therapist with a fun activity. Make arrangements to go out to lunch, stroll a mall, or do whatever he or she would like to do.
Keep your friendship a two-way street. Although you will no doubt spend time listening to your friend, talking about your own life (both good and bad) will allow your friend to feel needed and to contribute something in return.
Touch or hug your friend at every appropriate opportunity. People who are sick rarely get enough hugs. Cancer is not contagious. Greeting cards are another way to express your love; avoid “Get Well Soon” messages unless that is is the case for sure.
Use the same language as your friend uses. If he says cancer, you can say cancer. If he says tumor or malignancy, use those words.
Everybody’s battery needs recharging. If you know someone caring for a loved one with cancer, take over his duties for an afternoon to give him a chance to do whatever he wants to do. If you are the caregiver, give yourself adequate time off; leave any guilt you might have behind and have a good time.