by Paul Wheatley-Price BSc, MBChB, MRCP (UK), MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Division of Medical Oncology, Chair of Medical Advisory Committee, Lung Cancer Canada
One of the hardest discussions between an oncologist and their patient occurs at the time of transition from active anti-cancer therapy to best supportive care alone. This consultation has been reported as one of the most stressful faced by the physician, and of course is a nodal event for the patient. It is also clear that patients want their physicians to be honest, up to date and compassionate in these meetings.
by Kate Harcourt Turner, Living with Cancer
Late last year, three innocuous little words landed in my lap on an otherwise uneventful Friday. It’s fair to say that I never saw them coming. People my age rarely do! There I was, an average 37 year-old woman going about her day, when suddenly…BOOM!
You. Have. Cancer.
Up until that point I had never thought for a second I would hear the words “You have Cancer” in a lifetime, let alone in my thirties. All at once, I felt everything change. It was as if the mere utterance of those three little words had somehow altered the course and clarity of my entire life.
by Jennifer Cogswell, Living with Cancer
“We now know that the cause of the pain in your chest is cancer. You will be undergoing six months of intense chemotherapy treatment and perhaps radiation. We will need to do a bone marrow extraction immediately after this meeting to check if the cancer has spread. Now, let’s talk about fertility…”
by Kristine Nally, B.S., Microbiology
Whether or not to continue working can be an important concern for individuals preparing for chemotherapy. However, there is very little published research regarding work patterns, factors that affect the decision to work and support from employers during active cancer treatment. The decision and indeed the ability to continue working is highly individual and may be affected by physical and mental health, type and stage of cancer, age, type of work and finances.
For many people, working is an integral part of feeling “normal” and can have a positive psychological impact during a difficult time. In addition, the increased length of cancer treatments means that some people will need to work for financial reasons. Luckily, there have been great advances in the treatment of chemotherapy related side effects and some people that want to work, find that they can.
We asked our Current Oncology Section Editors how they would define the term “life after cancer” and how that theme presents itself in their chosen fields. Below is a response from Dr. Thierry Alcindor, Assistant Professor, Departments of Oncology and Medicine, McGill University Faculty of Medicine.
The outcome of several cancers has improved over the past few decades, owing to advances in surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and palliative care. Therefore, taking care of the surviving victim of cancer has now become an integral part of oncology.