The 10 Fs of Cancer Checklist is a list every patient needs in order to stay focused on winning his or her battle against cancer. In fact, there are 10 Fs To Do and 10 Fs Not To Do in this battle. I will spend all my time here and most of my time in blog posts on the To Do list. The To Do list improves your chance of survival. The other Not To Do list only contains items that will keep you from implementing the other one.
The information here is a quick mention with a little detail about each of them. The purpose of later blogs is to explain and expand on what you read here. Here are the bullet points on each of the Fs, in order to give you a quick idea on their scope.
The 10 Fs of Cancer To Do List
This F is the first one on every patient’s cancer checklist. You find out you have cancer. However, when you are diagnosed you find out much more than the fact you have cancer. Your findings also include other facts about your cancer. The type of cancer you have, the stage it is, the location of it, whether it is one location or several, etc.
This is the most important F. Why? Well, in order to solve any problem you need a clear and precise definition of it. You have to know where you’re starting with the problem. In this case, you need the clear findings of your disease. You need your cancer facts. Use the word Facts as the first F on your cancer checklist if it’s easier to remember.
2. Fysicians (aka Physicians)
OK, I know fysician is spelled with a ph. However, if you spell it phonetically, it’s fysician. No wonder English is one of the most difficult languages to speak. Your selection of physicians is important in fighting cancer. Their education, experience, treatment approach, sense of urgency, social network of other physicians they are in, the hospital in which they practice, the research they’ve done on your type of cancer, how many patients they’ve helped with your type of cancer, etc. All of these factors affect your outcome in your personal war on cancer.
Where you fight your war on cancer is very important. Some facilities are research hospitals and have the money, number of patients and prestige to be given the latest and greatest equipment by companies interested in marketing new products. Regional and local hospitals will often be a few years behind these facilities in equipment.
You may prefer to have your treatments at a local hospital or one far away. Which facility you choose may also determine whether you have one or more caregivers with you during your appointments and treatments. Choosing a research hospital far from home may require you to talk with physicians by yourself and not have anyone with you during your treatments. Will that concern you?
Whether you have faith in a higher power or in yourself, you will need to have it in something or someone. And, it will be tested probably more than once. Every patient needs something to help him or her continue with treatments. This is especially true when the cancer facts aren’t clear or appear to be against you.
For example, after not suffering any side effects during chemotherapy and radiation treatments my radiologist didn’t see that as a good sign. He said, “Well, sometimes nothing works.” Suddenly what I thought was a good thing (no negative side effects) was now bad. Up is down and down is up sometimes in this war. You need someone or something to believe in when those times occur. Sometimes the only certainty you have fighting cancer is that things will be uncertain occasionally.
5. Family and Friends
Often called caregivers, not all of your family and friends will be. You can’t expect everyone will have the time, energy or inclination to help you in your war on cancer. Don’t judge. Remember, this is your fight against cancer and not the other person’s. You get to choose who stays and who leaves your caregiver circle. If someone wants to support you in a certain way, you aren’t required to accept his or her help. This is your war. You get to pick who helps you fight it.
Asking a family member or friend to take a step back from your care requires work. However, you need to tell them it doesn’t mean you don’t want them in your life anymore. You simply may want them to play a lesser role than they would choose in this particular situation.
A few days after your diagnosis, you will be addressing this F. The bills often arrive quickly two to three weeks after your diagnosis. By then you’ve had three or more doctor visits. If you are insured, you also have your insurance company’s full attention. Along with real bills, you will receive letters about how this or that treatment has or hasn’t been approved. In addition, you will receive the usual This Is Not A Bill statement. Between doctor appointments, treatments and bills, you may find it difficult to manage much else at home or work. When I was first diagnosed, I told someone I didn’t need someone to make a meal for me, I needed an Administrative Assistant. I was serious.
Besides using the phone to make or change physician and treatment appointments, you will talk with insurance companies. You may have to make two or three calls before speaking to someone about making payments on bills that are too big to pay with one check.
In addition, you are negotiating payments at a time when you have no idea how many more bills will be coming to your mailbox. Agreeing to pay $75 a month on a bill until it’s paid off may seem like something you can do today. However, four more negotiations on other bills that you didn’t know you would be receiving and you may wish you had asked to pay $25 a month. Healthcare debt remains the number one cause for personal bankruptcy in the U.S. Each patient’s financial situation is different.
7. Fysical (aka Physical)
Yes, this is another one of those phonetically incorrect words. Your physical health is important while fighting cancer. This means exercise is important, even when exercising is the last thing you want to do. Your physical appearance also needs to be maintained during cancer treatments. Physical exercise and physical appearance are both important for your mental health. Depression is the most common mental health issue afflicting cancer patients.
Will you lose your hair from you treatments? How much weight will you lose or gain? Are you concerned about becoming weak and finding it difficult to walk? Will pain keep you from sleeping? Will your children or spouse find any changes that occur difficult to handle? These are additional physical and mental health challenges you may have to address. Whether the physical challenges are temporary or permanent, they can be an issue during treatment.
Your body will need a very different balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats while you are fighting cancer. Cancer treatments often cause tissue damage and inflammation inside your body. It’s important to eat healthy so you can heal. However, even more important is the food you eat after your treatments. That’s when the long healing process really begins. The one thing you can do without your physician’s help is healing your body by eating well and exercising. It also may include eating things you’ve never enjoyed eating before.
P.S. I have several hacks to create better eating habits. You will be amazed how easy it is to change your diet if you’re motivated. Look for these hacks in the 10 Fs blog posts.
9. Folk Medicine
Some people swear folk medicine isn’t medicine and others swear by it. For me, I swear at some of it and swear by other parts of it. I will share how to find medical research on what is available regarding supplements, spices and food that will help you fight cancer. I’ll share what I know in the blog posts and even talk about how to discuss the topic of folk or alternative medicine with your physician.
This is the last item in the 10 Fs of Cancer Checklist. However, you need to think about your future in the very beginning of your cancer treatments. Huh? I know it sounds a bit odd. However, if you can’t visualize and see a future for yourself, it will be very difficult to stay motivated and complete your treatments.
“Do you think this will kill you?” a good friend and former therapist asked me after I told her I had cancer. It seemed an odd and harsh question. I said I didn’t know, of course. She replied. “Then there isn’t any point in discussing it any further until you know the answer.” She left and I stood there thinking for several minutes. “She’s right.” I thought. I needed to answer that question first. What’s the point of being concerned about anything else if I really don’t think I’ll be alive after the treatments?
So, do this now. Create a future you want to have that you can see, feel, taste and smell right now. Make it the one you know you will have after all your treatments. It will motivate you to stay the course, reduce your anxiety and improve your chance of survival.
Next, find ten pieces of notebook-size paper and write only one of the F at the top of each piece of paper. Once you discover the future that you want for yourself and you see, feel, taste, smell and hear it, you are ready to build your personal 10 Fs of Cancer Checklist.
These 10 Fs have many more elements that patients need to consider than what I’ve listed here. I have only mentioned a few. I look forward to exploring all of them with you in the blog and in your Comments.
We will talk soon!
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