Cancer is a devastating disease that affects thousands of new patients every year. Conventional treatment methods like chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are the most common in the United States, however, research from the United Kingdom has shown that there might be a little bit of bias when it comes to the people who qualify for life-saving surgeries.
According to an article on DailyMail.com, surgery is rarely offered to patients who are age seventy-five or older. This is especially true for men who suffer from prostate cancer, or women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. There is speculation that these patients are considered to be “unworthy” to undergo surgery, and so the option is never even discussed with them. In fact, statistics show that when prostate cancer was detected in men who were age fifty to fifty-four, 29% of them had the surgery to remove it. Only 0.1% of men age fifty-five to eighty-four had the surgery, and no one who was eighty-five or older had it.
Although more women in the age range of seventy-five to eight-four were offered surgery (37%), almost 90% of younger women had surgery for ovarian cancer. Again, not one woman age eighty-five or older was offered this option.
The survival rates for these and other types of cancer in the UK are quite low because of these practices. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as though anything will be changing any time soon.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer, here at Issels®, we understand how you feel, and we’re dedicated to not discriminating against any of our patients because of their age. We would love to help you. Contact us.
It is rewarding but challenging to be a cancer caregiver. Use our tips to meet the challenge successfully:
1. Try to stay positive. Focus on positive and hopeful thoughts and try to keep your sense of humor. While this may be easier said than done, maintaining a positive attitude can help you and the patient cope with cancer’s ups and downs. Find friends, family, clergy and counselors you can turn to when you need an emotional boost.
2. Take care of yourself. Being a cancer caregiver can be physically and emotionally exhausting. In order to care for someone else, you must first take care of yourself. To stay healthy and reduce stress, try to get some exercise every day, eat well-balanced meals and get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. If you are a full-time caregiver, enlist the aid of family and friends so you can take periodic breaks to relax and recharge.
3. Ask for help. Don’t go it alone. Create a support system of people you can talk to about your concerns and feelings. Many caregivers find it helpful to share experiences and encouragement with other caregivers through online cancer caregiver support groups. Invite friends and family members to be part of the caregiving team and ask them to help out with specific tasks such as grocery shopping, driving to doctor visits, taking children to activities, visiting with the patient, dropping off a meal, etc. It can be helpful to keep a go-to list of people who have volunteered to help and the tasks they are able to help with to forestall last-minute emergencies.
Naturally, you to want to protect your children from bad news. The instinct to shelter them may make you reluctant to tell them about your cancer; however, it is best that you do. It will be difficult to continue hiding it and children are often able to sense when something is wrong. They may be more worried if they feel that important news is being kept from them.
Explain the Illness
Find a time where you will not be interrupted or distracted. Younger children will not need as much detail as older ones; too much information may confuse and distress them. Phrase answers to questions so that each child will be able to understand. Children up to age eight may be given a short explanation. Tell them that cancer means a part of your body that is not doing what it is supposed to do. There are bad cells in your body that can spread, so they need to be kept from growing or to be removed.
Prepare for reactions such as the child thinking that they caused the cancer (“magical thinking”) or that it is contagious. You may have to explain that cancer cannot be transmitted to them or the other parent.
For older children, name the illness so that they do not misunderstand. They may need a more detailed explanation and may ask questions about your specific type of cancer. If they have more information, they are less likely to feel helpless.
Explain to the child that there are treatments available that can help and that it is much rarer for people to die from cancer than it used to be.
Attitude is everything whether the cancer diagnosis is for a family member, friend or you, the aftermath of diagnosis is often devastating. A range of emotions are soaring through your mind, and you’re wondering if you have what it takes to beat this disease. Fortunately, when you equip yourself with the right attitude, used in conjunction with traditional or alternative cancer treatment programs, you can build the strength necessary to fight with all you have.
Changing your attitude about any situation is difficult, and you’ll want to make sure to surround yourself with people who support your cause. Build a team of support whether it’s through family members, your church group or all of your best friends from college. Positive attitudes can have a profound effect on you well-being. Once you have found that group, you can also begin to focus on what it is that you are fighting for.
You might be fighting to live longer for your children, or you may be fighting because you don’t feel as though you’ve completed your journey here yet. Setting a goal and giving you a passion for the journey are two powerful tools. This positive attitude can also be tied to religion or spirituality. By connecting yourself to God or a higher power, you can tap into a powerful force that helps you to retain your positive “I can win” attitude.
Incorporating religion or spirituality of some type into your “I can win” attitude lets you know that you are not alone. Prayer and meditation can also be a part of your plan as you work to enhance attitude.
Consider using immune boosting programs to get your mind, body and spirit all in line with one another. No matter what your treatment plan is be sure to discuss all of your goals and ideas with your doctor first to ensure that you are moving in the “right” direction.
Men have another reason to catch some Z’s. According to a new study, getting a good night’s sleep may help protect men against prostate cancer. A Harvard study has linked high levels of the hormone melatonin, which the body produces during nighttime sleep, with a 75% reduced risk of advanced prostate cancer. The study also found that melatonin levels dropped when sleep was disrupted. Prostate cancer joins a lengthening list of diseases linked to sleep length and quality, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery disease.
There’s no magic number, but the National Sleep Foundation says the average adult needs from 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Most U.S. adults say they get about 7.5 hours of sleep a night, but a 2006 study found that adults aren’t getting as much sleep as they think they are. A University of Chicago study found that white men actually slept only 6.1 hours; black men, 5.1 hours. At the time, study author Diane Lauderdale, an associate professor of health studies at the University of Chicago, told Science Daily:
“People don’t think they get enough sleep, and they get less sleep than they think. As we learn more and more about the importance of sleep for health, we find evidence that people seem to be sleeping less and less.”
Average sleep times have declined steadily since the early 1900s when most people averaged 9 hours of sleep. The rise of sedentary white collar jobs that don’t require physical labor is thought to have had some impact on the drop in sleep duration. But even more culpable is the increase in nighttime leisure options that began with the introduction of the television and has exploded during the current digital age.
Perhaps the new findings will encourage men to unplug and go to sleep.
When living with cancer you may find yourself too preoccupied to take part in activities you normally enjoy. It’s important to focus on taking time for yourself and improving your quality of life. Even small pleasures can make a big difference in maintaining a positive mental attitude.
Defining quality of life is highly personal. Only you can say what factors go into your ideal blueprint for living. Are you a social butterfly who loves spending time with family and friends? Maybe you’re more of a homebody who enjoys curling up with a good book.
No matter where your bliss lies, taking care of your emotional and physical well-being boosts your quality of life. Here are some helpful ideas that can be easily incorporated into your schedule.
Stress can greatly impact your health. Find a method that helps you relax and free your mind. Meditation is particularly effective because it teaches you to live in the present rather than deal with regrets of the past or fears of the future.
Keep your energy level up by including some moderate exercise in your daily routine. Walking and bike riding are fun activities that won’t even feel like a workout.
Challenge yourself to become educated about nutrition and try out what you learn in the kitchen. The Internet makes it easier than ever to find healthy, simple-to-prepare recipes. Take some cooking classes at a local community center and make some new friends along the way.
No one else’s story is the same as yours. Write it however you choose and continue finding joy in every day of the journey