Steps To Follow
As overwhelming as a pancreatic cancer diagnosis is, it is important to act quickly and put a treatment plan into place. Treatment should ideally begin within one month after you receive your diagnosis.
Understand your disease
Thoroughly understand what stage of pancreatic cancer you have. Inquire about having your blood or saliva tested to identify possible genetic mutations. In addition to this routine testing, if you are being treated at a major research center, speak with your doctor about having a tumor biopsy performed to sequence your cancer genes. Knowing the stage and possible mutations can impact your treatment plan. Research the latest treatments and inquire about clinical trials for which you might qualify.
Seek Opinions From Experts
Get two opinions and make sure that one is from a large academic institution that specializes in treating pancreatic cancer.
Know Your Healthcare Team
Treating pancreatic cancer requires an interdisciplinary approach that includes your oncologist and other specialists who will be involved in your care. Continue to see other doctors who are involved in your overall care, such as your internist.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Thoroughly understand your health insurance policy. Know what services are covered and what your out-of-pocket obligation will be per calendar year. Request a case manager to help you optimize your benefits and to navigate the intricacies of your policy.
Record your questions in a notebook and bring it with you to all doctors appointments. Use it to keep track of test results and appointment dates. Write down the contact numbers of all your doctors in one place, or save them in your cell phone. Additionally, know the number to call if you have a problem/concern after hours or on a weekend.
Develop A Support System
Have someone accompany you to oncology appointments for support and clarification of the proposed plan of care.
Enlist the help of friends, family members, and neighbors who want to help with errands/chores, meal preparation, and driving.
Control What You Can
Closely monitor your nutrition, physical activity and pain level and provide feedback to your healthcare team. Utilize integrative medicine such as Reike therapy, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and pet therapy.
Initiate Goals Of Care
Incorporate the palliative care team to help you control your symptoms so that you can have a better quality of life. Proper symptom management will help you stay on your treatment plan. Palliative care doesn’t mean you are giving up. In some clinical trials, patients who received palliative care lived longer than those who didn’t receive it.
Take Care Of Your Emotional Health
Maintain daily routines and continue to partake in activities you enjoy as much as possible. If needed, seek out supportive services such as counselors, social workers and support groups.Download Checklist