Talking with Your Care Team

Everyone carries responsibility for healthy communication. Actively participating in your health care helps to open the lines of communication between you, your family members, caregivers and your healthcare team.

Communicating Your Symptoms & Side Effects

University of Texas MD Anderson’s Video Coach: “Talking about side effects”

Wendy Harpham, M.D., a physician and multiple-time cancer survivor, talks about side effects and how to discuss them with your doctor. She speaks from the wisdom of her own cancer experience and also that of treating patients in her practice. This program is created by the Interpersonal Communication and Relationship Enhancement program at MD Anderson.

Pocket Guide to Talking to Your Doctor about your Side Effects

The University of Texas MD Anderson’s I*Care Interpersonal Care and Relationship Enhancement program has created an easy pocket guide to help you communicate your symptoms to your healthcare team.

TEAMWORK: The Cancer Patient’s Guide To Talking With Your Doctor

The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship has compiled this booklet of tips and tools to help you communicate with your healthcare team.

Center for Communication in Medicine

SpeakSooner™ ask questions now, live the answers program looks at the treatment and management of serious illness conversations that must begin with you, the patient. The toolkit includes a video and Difficult Conversations Workbook (free downloadable PDF) which helps patients understand and communicate their values, concerns and priorities so they can get the support they need and become more effective partners in their care.

Becoming an Empowered and Engaged Patient

Engagement Behavior Framework

This document, created by the Center for Advancing Health (CFAH), assembles a complete list of behaviors and describes the actions that individuals and/or their healthcare providers must perform in order to maximally benefit from health care.

Be a Prepared Patient® Communicate with your doctors

The Center for Advancing Health provides resources that help you get the most out of your doctor’s appointments, talking about medical tests, asking your doctor questions, talking about your symptoms, and understanding your prescriptions.

NIH OCCAM Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine – Talking about Complementary and Alternative Medicine with Health Care Providers:  A Workbook and Tips  

This workbook is designed to help you talk with your health care provider(s) about your complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use during and after your cancer care. This workbook can be used in its entirety or as individual sheets to best meet your needs and interests.

Center for Advancing Health (CFAH)

CFAH provides excellent resources to “help patients find good health care and make the most of it.” The Center encourages patients to be actively involved in their health care. “Be a Prepared Patient” topics include finding good health care, participating in treatment plans, communicating with your healthcare team, promoting healthy lifestyle choices, organizing and paying for care, getting preventive care, finding accurate information about your care, understanding your risk for other diseases, sharing your medical information with other physicians, making good treatment decisions, and planning for end-of-life care.

The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Health Care – Guide to Communication and Patient Preparedness

Schwartz has compiled a list of ways to better prepare for visits with healthcare providers (caregivers). They have also presented wonderful webinars on compassion and communication, and created the document Your Right To Compassionate Health Care.

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Risk Reduction

You have faced cancer and, like others who have done the same, you feel motivated to review your lifestyle choices. Adopting a healthier lifestyle can help you ease the common side effects of cancer treatment and the risks for other chronic diseases or a cancer recurrence. The following information and tools can help you take control of your health and develop an action plan with your doctor to help you live a healthier, lower-risk lifestyle. For more tools to help you recover, go to our Healthy Living page.

AICR – Foods That Fight Cancerbottle

There is no single food alone that can protect you against cancer. The American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) promotes strong evidence that an eating plan filled with a variety of plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans helps lower the risk for many cancers.

AICR – Tips for After Cancer Treatment

The American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) provides practical, reliable advice on what to eat and how to become active again once your cancer treatment is over. This includes support groups, recipes, and tips for healthy everyday changes that may lower risk for cancer recurrence and secondary cancers. AICR brochures, DVDs, and online tools for cancer survivorship are also available. AICR’s Guidelines for Cancer Survivors outlines their guidelines for diet, nutrition, and physical activity for cancer survivors.

AICR – Evidence of Lifestyle Links to Cancer Risk by Cancer Site

The American Institute of Cancer Research’s (AICR) evidence shows that our risk for many types of cancer is related to diet, physical activity, and weight. For some types, however, it is not yet possible to determine whether or not lifestyle plays a role. This does not mean such links are impossible, simply that more research is needed. The AICR also touts 10 Recommendations for Cancer Prevention.

ACS – Body Weight and Cancer Risk

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), obesity, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and excess alcohol consumption can be linked to many cancers. Being obese raises the risk of cancers recurring after treatment and can lower the chances of survival. Learn about your body mass index (BMI) and how to lower your risk.

American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention

This is a condensed version of the article describing the guidelines for nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention, which was written for health care professionals in 2012. This focus is on avoiding inactivity, maintaining a healthy weight, and consuming a healthy diet – particularly plant sources of food. Read the healthcare professionals version here.

ASCO – Prevention and Risk Reduction

This information, provided by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), promotes evidence-based prevention strategies into cancer practice. They are also committed to supporting survivors of cancer.

Dana-Farber – Cancer Prevention and Risk Reduction

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute offers a wealth of information, including informative topics on reducing risk by cancer type, exercise, nutrition and weight management, smoking cessation after cancer treatment, understanding your genetic risk for cancer, and more. They also provide a Cancer Prevention Insights Blog with timely articles on cancer prevention. For more information on risk reduction practices see 10 Ways to Lower Your Cancer Risk by Dana-Farber.

Diet, Nutrition and Physical Activity Breast Cancer Survivors

This is a review of the recommendations for cancer prevention, which is expected to be published in 2017. This report is based on a review of literature and an expert panel discussion for breast cancer survivors.

EWG – Consumer Guides

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has researched many items related to environmental health. These educational guides can help you make safer and better-informed decisions about the products you and your family use.

Healthy Habits for those at Risk for Lymphedema

These guidelines are developed by the National Lymphedema Network to help reduce your risk of developing lymphedema. It should be noted that these are NOT prevention guidelines. But there is little research about risk reduction, it should always be individualized by a certified lymphedema therapist and your healthcare professional. These include exercise and nutrition guidelines.

University at MD Anderson: Recommended Cancer Screening Examinations

Regular follow-up care is an important piece of your survivorship journey. In addition to seeing your oncology team, your care plan will include regular visits to your primary care provider to care for your whole person, including cancer screenings. MD Anderson has developed this list of recommended cancer screening exams to help find cancer early, when the chances for curing the disease are greater. Find out what screening exams are right for you based on age, gender, and family history. You may want to talk to your physician to make sure you are on track.

OncoLink – What’s My Risk

Penn Medicine’s risk assessment program is available to help you learn about the factors that increase and decrease your cancer risks.

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Moved to Tears by Taxes: My Emotional Life Post-Cancer

STEPHANIE HARRIS, D.C. | FEBRUARY 22 2016

From-The-Hip-Photo-0024There’s no going back to what your life was before a cancer diagnosis. I know this. Yet I struggle at times to find my place in this “new normal.” My young daughter was diagnosed a year ago January and thankfully is now in remission and thriving. My life post-cancer is equal parts enriching and depressing. I used to love snowy days, but now a snowstorm carries with it a subtle yet palpable undercurrent of gloom, given that she was diagnosed in the wintertime. By contrast, after what my family has been through, a customary dinner out together, in our beloved hometown, feels like a privilege and an extraordinary blessing.

This week last year, 7 year-old Chloe had just completed her first round of chemotherapy in a hospital 350 miles from home, and her hair had begun to fall out. I know this was our precise experience one year ago to date because my smartphone sends me photographic reminders almost daily. “Rediscover this day,” my photo app says. Today, her hair has grown back in, but my family is still in the fallout from having been derailed by cancer. Read More

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It’s True – It’s Really Not About the Bike

TONI ABBEY, RN, OCN  | FOUNDER | AUGUST 27, 2014

We just returned from a highly sought visit to Austin where we were honored to explore the LIVESTRONG Navigation Center and LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION.  The LIVESTRONG Navigation Center has been a much aligned program model for our rural version, Blueprints of Hope.  Sarah Gomez, Navigation Outreach Coordinator, sweetly accommodated us with a preview of the navigation services LIVESTRONG delivers.  The Navigation facility was eye-opening.  They are providing many services Blueprints of Hope provides, but on a much larger scale than for our clients in Southwestern Colorado.  The navigation team, who are mainly licensed social workers – along with the in-house Patient Advocate Foundation representative, assist with the practicalities of negotiating the intricacies cancer presents, and enable the program to have an additional layer which addresses the emotional issues related to cancer. Since partnering with the NavigateCancer Foundation, they are better equipped to offer clinical guidance relating to diagnosis and treatment, as this segment is provided by certified oncology nurses.  Navigation services are provided via telephone, e-mail or in person.  Our communities are one and the same, facing similar barriers – such as those related to accessing care.

Brian Myers, who is the Grassroots Marketing Director, then treated us to a tour of the green-built Foundation building.  Some of us know Brian by his involvement through LIVESTRONG’s presence and association with the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic over the past few years. The Foundation is down-to-earth, possessing cubicles for all (including President & CEO, Doug Ulman) – and a community space that is shared with other like-minded nonprofits.  The Tribute Wall is covered with permanent ceramic replicas of race bibs dedicated in honor or memory of someone who is “fighting” or has “fought the fight.”  There are ribbon-signs of yellow with black lettering throughout, and a wall with the moving invocation of the entire LIVESTRONG Manifesto:

“We believe in Life. Your Life. We believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being.  . . .”

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