Don’t ignore them
Personal support from friends and family members is necessary for cancer survivors. Therefore, visitors to the home of a cancer patient could bring flowers to cheer up the mood of a patient. Casual conversations, social discussions about friends, movies, organizing visits to the theater, arranging for new social events, etc. can help drive a conversation with patients. Regular visits to a patient also help them regain their confidence and reintegrate themselves back into society.
Visitors must be good listeners
Every visitor must make a conscious effort to re-establish connections with a patient. This can take the form of listening to the words and narratives from a patient, lending helping hand in house chores, add words of comfort or encouragement to a conversation, promise to organize a trip with friends, watching television shows together, and so on. However, listening must be an active pursuit because this act directly engages with a patient and allows him or her to vent their fears, joys, and hopes for the future.
Don’t be intrusive or judgmental
Words and acts that signal care and comfort should flow freely in conversations with patients in any setting. Right words of encouragement help a patient to cope up with their journey and speed up the recovery process. Friends and visitors must avoid asking medical questions such as tumor markers, chemotherapy, cancer treatment, and other personal questions as it would disrupt the mental peace of a patient.
Don’t minimize their experience
Avoid saying words and sentences that might make them feel sorry for themselves. Try saying “I hope it will be okay or “I’m really sorry,” instead of Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. Also, do not refer to any cancer as good cancer; these statements downplay what they are going through actually.
Long chats in the right direction tend to relieve the mental pressures that prey on cancer patients. A family friend, for instance, could narrate stories that relate outstanding recoveries in cancer patients. In this context, cancer patients can also join communities of survivors that share their recovery experiences. A large group of survivors could form a social club that meets regularly; members could read books and periodicals and attend a shared dinner event. These actions boost their self-esteem and create positive energies in their minds and hearts. Interested members of society can choose to join such groups and lead members in a positive direction.
Balanced etiquette and a sensitive approach to dealing with patients and survivors of cancer can make a world of difference among recoverees. Members of the society, friends, relatives, and fellow survivors can co-operate to create wonderful instances for a complete recovery, thereby elevating the quality of life for patients. These examples can form the bedrock of social attitudes that prevail in modern society and become a shining beacon of hope and encouragement for those who have cancer.
Tons of sleep: Good for recovery
Each patient who has undergone treatment for any form of cancer should aim to acquire healthy sleep cycles. This allows the human body to rejuvenate, gain its energies, improve the human mood, control weight, re-develop memory, increase attention cycles, and so on. In line with this, each patient should stick to regular bedtimes at night and rule out any distractions. Therefore, all forms of digital devices should be excluded from the bedroom. Besides, a dark, cool bedroom assists in recovery; this should be a priority for patients recovering from cancer treatment regimens. Further, recovering patients should avoid the consumption of stimulants, such as caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.
Good, healthy diet is essential
A healthy diet is necessary to assist recovery in the phase of life that follows cancer treatment. Patients and their family members must try to include different types of green vegetables in the regular diet of a recovering patient. Foods high in fiber content such as beans, whole grains, nuts, lentils, seeds, etc. can boost dietary fiber and must be included. Also, patients must consume healthy portions of probiotic and prebiotic foods to rejuvenate the digestion canal. Medical professionals encourage the consumption of raw garlic, raw or cooked onions, artichokes, legumes, and beans during the recovery phase of a patient.
Regular exercise can speed up recovery
Regular exercise can help the human body recover faster from cancer treatment procedures. Therefore, a patient should consult healthcare professionals and other specialists to develop a fitness routine. Short, moderately intense bursts of physical exercise can pump the heart muscles, thereby improving blood circulation in the human body. In addition, walking and standing should be included in the fitness routine. A patient could network with other recovering patients to form a small community that exercises together regularly. Such a stance helps inculcate the team spirit and encourages each member to participate in physical exercise regimens. Further, recovering patients should avoid sitting still for a longer time.
Quit smoking, quit second-hand smoke
Cancer survivors should make a conscious and ongoing effort to quit smoking and chewing tobacco. Healthcare specialists urge survivors to join an anti-smoking campaign as part of efforts to improve physical and mental health following medical treatment. They should also undertake efforts to avoid smoke-laden bars and restaurants in a bid to avoid second-hand smoke. Further, a non-smoking workplace should ideally help in the recovery process, therefore enabling patients to gain complete recovery from any form of cancer.
Stay connected with friends and family
Social support remains an important element that speeds up recovery in patients that have undergone treatment for cancer. In line with this, survivors should make an effort to communicate with friends and other members of the cancer survivor community. Telephone calls, video calls, social media networks may also assist in such recovery. Such actions enable cancer survivors to regain their mental and psychological strength.
Lower stress – best for recovery
Taking regular walks, listening to music, watching a movie, going out for meals with friends, using various relaxation techniques, etc. can help control the incidence of stress in the minds of recovering patients. Such activities regulate the release of stress hormones and pave the way for a patient to achieve a normal lifestyle. The avoidance of stressful situations also acts as a tonic for the health of a survivor. These acts also boost self-esteem and allow recovering patients to gain sound mental and physical health.
These suggestions can help cancer survivors regain a normal lifestyle and prevent a relapse of health complications. Members of the society and immediate family should support and encourage cancer survivors to gain a healthy lifestyle at the earliest.
A proper recovery can extend the lifespan of patients recovering from various forms of cancer. Health professionals state that cancer patients might find spiritual healing and emotional pleasure from books and journals. This expands the idea that a healthy mind can speed up the recovery process for a cancer patient. In this context, a different genre of books such as mythology, self-help, contemporary, travel, romance, mystery, horror, memoir, art, historical fiction, poetry, science-fiction, classics, business, etc. can help in the recovery process. Similarly, certain forms of light and moderate exercise can aid the recovery process. Yoga remains one of the best kinds of physical activity that allows recovering patients to find solace and come to terms with the medical condition, thus speeding up the recovery process.
USING BOOKS AS A THERAPY
Reading books in this context is also termed as bibliotherapy; such actions can help patients raise their levels of self-awareness, elevate the levels of empathy for others undergoing cancer treatment, reduce the occurrence of negative thoughts, raise levels of hope, and attain certain positive feelings and thoughts. The act of reading books also allows patients to rise above their current condition, which allows for faster recovery from trauma and chronic feelings of illness. Therefore, family members of cancer patients and professional caregivers must encourage the book reading habit in the daily lives of patients undergoing treatment for cancer.
Many types of reading, such as spiritual reading, classic novels, and science fiction, can introduce new thoughts and energies in patients undergoing treatment for cancer. A patient can explore the world of modern literature while setting the mind free from the many worries imposed by cancer treatment. As a family member, you can extend support to this strategy by presenting new sets of books to a recovering patient; this act can strengthen family bonds and improve the mood of patients undergoing recovery. This will help the patients to return to a normal lifestyle.
YOGA – EXCELLENT AS COMPLEMENTARY THERAPY
Yoga, as a physical exercise regimen, helps in improving the physical and mental well-being of cancer patients. Research studies indicate the emphatic benefits of yoga in terms of improved mood states, symptom reduction, stress reduction, and improved quality of life. Further, several meta-analysis and reviews reveal unequivocal benefits for yoga with respect to expectations, benefits, and state of mind in recovering cancer patients. Therefore, patients must be encouraged to join yoga communities and undertake these exercises to reinstate themselves in the mainstream of society.
Yoga teachers can help cancer patients relax and cope with stress, anxiety, and depression through natural treatment methods. Healthcare professionals state that yoga can help to uplift the mood. Some people with cancer say that yoga helps calm their minds so that they can cope better with cancer and its modern forms of treatment. Others say it helps to deal with pain, tiredness, sleep problems, and mental depression.
The cancer journey can be tiring and tedious; minor changes in lifestyle along with inculcating some good habits like reading books and practicing yoga may benefit cancer patients.
What will happen to her body when she is undergoing chemotherapy? What kind of pain will she have to go through? Is she mentally prepared for chemotherapy? Will chemotherapy affect her emotionally? The mind is occupied with ample thoughts and emotions when loved ones undergo chemotherapy, and, fear is the most distressing one.
1. Fear of losing hair:
Loss of hair is among the most common side effects of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy affects all the cells in the body including the healthy ones, especially the ones that grow rapidly. Here are a few more things you must know about hair loss and chemotherapy:
• Not everyone faces an equal amount of hair loss.
• The amount of hair loss, thinning, or falling of hair depends on the chemotherapy dosage and medication.
• Hair loss due to chemotherapy can be sudden or can be a slow process.
• Patients may either lose all the hair or just a part of it.
• It is possible to lose hair from all parts of the body; not just on the head.
2. Fear of chronic side effects:
A lot of people fear that chemotherapy leaves patients with chronic side effects, which might stay with them forever. This is not true for all patients and all kinds of cancers. Different patients experience varying lengths of side effects – some for weeks and months and some for years. The patient’s cancer care specialist might be able to share information about the long-term and short-term side effects and the tenure of side effects. Some side effects can also be treated with medication or therapy.
3. Fear of chemotherapy being physically painful:
Agreed, chemotherapy is painful. However, patients should know that certain pains caused by chemotherapy could be treated by the medication or by alternative therapies. As per cancer care experts, patients should remember that most often the anxiety of what is going to happen can psychologically heighten the perception of pain. The physical pain caused by chemotherapy doesn’t necessarily have to be as painful as considered to be.
4. Side effects of chemotherapy:
Some of the common side effects of chemotherapy are nausea, hair loss, constipation, anemia, weight loss, fertility problems, kidney problems, and so on. Having said this, patients need to know that:
• Every patient has different levels of side effects. Some patients might experience higher side effects than other patients.
• Certain side effects can be prevented with the help of extra care and medication.
• Some side effects have long term impact whereas some lasts for a shorter tenure.
Medical research and innovation have made it possible for some women to avoid chemotherapy. In India, 95% of cancer patients choose to undergo chemotherapy, whereas a large percentage of them can avoid it. Studies show that chemotherapy can be avoided in 70% early stage HER2 positive breast cancer patients.
Prognostic tests like CanAssist Breast helps the patients to know their breast cancer recurrence risk score and possibly avoid chemotherapy. It makes personalized treatment possible while keeping the costs down in low-risk cases.
Chemotherapy is a tough fight, but constantly telling yourself that you CAN make through it, is the best way to deal with the fear of chemotherapy. Remember, “This Too Shall Pass”!
What comes to your mind when you think about breast cancer? It would most probably be ‘chemotherapy,’ ‘fear of a long process of treatment,’ ‘high costs,’ the fear of cancer coming back, and so on. These thoughts can be controlled with the right knowledge and right breast cancer treatments.
Researchers and oncologists have made new and promising forms of treatment for breast cancer. It’s time to personalize your treatment!
Our test classiﬁes patients as ‘low-risk’ or ‘high-risk’ based on the patient’s breast cancer recurrence risks over five years. The clear-cut test result provides doctors with additional information that can be used for treatment planning.
Plan the ideal treatment
CanAssist Breast is a test that helps to plan the ideal treatment by predicting the breast cancer recurrence risk within five years of surgery. The risk of recurrence is lesser in early-stage breast cancer (Stage 1 and Stage 2), and hence, it is important for doctors and the patients to plan out a suitable course of treatment based on the breast cancer recurrence risk score.
Until a few years back, oncologists and clinicians were deciding cancer treatments based on age, tumor size, node status, grade, ER, PR and HER2 status. OncoStem realized there was a gap in the decision-making paradigm and understanding the tumor biology to comprehend the cancer progression and its aggressiveness would significantly change treatments depending on an individual’s tumor biology.
Tests similar to CanAssist Breast have been based on genomic analysis, whereas CanAssist Breast involves proteomics analysis. The genomics method considers genes of interest in the genome of a cell, whereas CanAssist Breast’s proteomics technique studies the proteins of interest produced by the cell. A 5-year study by OncoStem Diagnostics, recently published online, explains the detailed analysis and results that lead to the test, CanAssist Breast.
Your tumor is different, just like you are, as an individual.
Doctors and oncologists have to know as much possible about your tumor for optimal and ideal treatment.
A way forward – scientific, machine-learning precision
Artificial intelligence and machine learning is an emerging approach in the healthcare sector including the treatment of breast cancer. CanAssist Breast is the first such test developed in India, specifically for Indian patients. It determines the tumor’s biochemical fingerprint and assesses its aggressiveness. Assessing the tumor biology in detail, the test considers five key biomarkers that are involved in recurrence-related pathways in the cell. Based on this combined analysis performed by proteomics-based technology, the information is then assessed by a statistical algorithm that provides a score between 0 and 100 – whether the patient is at low-risk or high-risk for cancer recurrence. A ‘CAB risk score’ less than 15.5 indicates a low-risk. Depending on each patient’s unique CAB risk score, the doctors can thus plan an ideal treatment tailored to an individual’s patient.
A decision that doctors and patients must make:
‘Fear’ is the most shared and challenging emotion that cancer brings with it. However, fearful a patient might be; it is essential for the patients to know and consider that their treatment can be different from that of the other patients.
Knowing who is eligible for the CanAssist-Breast test can help both patients and doctors.
The patients must meet the below criteria to take CanAssist Breast:
- Patients with early-stage, invasive breast cancer
- Patients with hormone receptor-positive (“ER+ and/or PR+”) and HER2- negative disease
- Lymph node-negative or up to 3 lymph node-positive
- Patients should not have gone through neo-adjuvant chemotherapy
In India alone, 150,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Of these, around 50 percent fall in the early-stage breast cancer category and a majority of them are eligible for this test.
Take your decision together
If you or someone among your friends or family are going through breast cancer (early-stage), you must consider taking CanAssist Breast before starting the treatment. If you are an oncologist or a doctor, maybe your patients could avoid the unnecessary treatments and the side effects most usually associated with chemotherapy.
Doctors must suggest the test to their eligible patients and patients must ask their doctors about the test score and personalize their treatment accordingly.
Want to know more about CanAssist Breast? Get in touch with us.
Women in their 30s/40s can and do get breast cancer, raising the need for young women to be breast aware. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), 1 in 8 women is diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during their lives. Having said this, not all the lumps are cancerous. Here are a few things that you must consider to get started with breast cancer:
Your breasts can speak to you
Most of the women experience breast cancer symptoms such as a painless lump or mass, skin irritation, an inward turning nipple; pain in the nipple or breast; nipple discharge, thickening of the nipple or breast skin, scaliness, redness, and breast swelling. But, how many of us pay attention to these symptoms?.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, bring it to your doctor’s attention.
Breast cancer doesn’t need a family history
You might not have any family history of breast cancer, but that can’t be an assurance of you not getting diagnosed with breast cancer. As per the American Cancer Society, more than 85 percent of women who get breast cancer have no family history of cancer. Most of the women who find a lump in the breast think they needn’t worry as they have no family history of cancer. But, the truth is that even if you have no family history, you are still at risk of getting breast cancer over your lifetime.
High-risk factors are relative
The term ‘high risk’ is scientifically used by oncologists to determine the chances of cancer. There is no standard definition of what truly constitutes high-risk. It means that someone has a higher cancer risk than someone without any risk factors.
Here are a few breast cancer risk factors as per the National Cancer Institute :
- Excess alcoholism
- Getting your first menstrual period before age 12
- Giving birth for the first time after age 30
- Never being pregnant
- Starting menopause at an older age
- Having a close relative with breast cancer
Regular mammograms are a must
Some experts believe forty is the right age to get mammograms whereas a few recommend that women over fifty years must get mammograms once every two years. As breast cancer is age-related, most women prefer mammograms once they are in their fifties. However, considering the overall health of women, it’s better women start annual mammograms once they’re in their forties.
Talk to your doctor about when you should start getting mammograms and how often you should get them.
Breast self-examination is a preventive measure
Taking a monthly breast self-exam will serve as a preventive measure. Earlier the detection of breast cancer, better is the treatment planning. Regular breast self-exams will let you know the presence of lumps (if any), and you can consult an oncologist accordingly.
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