Once you’ve agreed your treatment with your care team, you will be given a treatment plan explaining what’s planned and when. This should cover all aspects of your treatment – including things like; visits to wards or units, as well as aims of treatment alongside risks and benefits.
A treatment plan ensures that everyone’s expectations are addressed, if you haven’t been given a plan – ask if you can have one.
The relationship between you and your health care team should be a partnership – where you work together to:
- Ensure your team understands what is important to you – your preferences of care
- Identify realistic aims of care and / or treatment
- Make decisions about your care and treatment.
Whether you want to know every detail or not, there are a few basics about treatment it’s always worth keeping in mind:
- That everyone reacts to treatments differently, which means that comparing yourself to other people may not be helpful, though others may have useful tips that can help you through treatment.
- If you’re told treatment may have a certain effect and it doesn’t happen, that doesn’t necessarily mean the treatment hasn’t worked.
- If your cancer can’t be cured, the ultimate goal of treatment is often to improve your quality of life – so if you don’t feel that’s happening, say so.
- If you want to stop treatment – you can. Just let your team know.
Cancer treatments can put a lot of extra strain on your body and preparing yourself physically and psychologically can make it easier to cope with treatment and to recover afterwards.It is not unusual to feel a bit low in mood, rather than relief, once treatment is completed - usually 1-2 weeks afterwards - this is a perfectly normal reaction and usually improves over time, as you physically recover. Feeling this way, may cause anxiety if you are not aware it may happen.If it occurs, and you are worried about it or it does not seem to get better alongside your physical recovery, you may want to talk with your nurse specialist, clinical team and / or GP. Help and Support is available for you
There may be a number of consequences of having surgery – from how you feel about yourself and your body to to physical alterations and changes in ‘normal’ function – depending on the type of surgery and / or other treatments you may have had or need to have to complete treatment. It can be helpful to discuss these consequences, and what can help to deal with them, before agreeing to going ahead with anything further.
- Being asked a series of questions about your health, medical history, family history and home circumstances. Some questions you may have already answered, so try to think of it as a necessary checklist to ensure your safety and best care – rather than unnecessary repetition
- Being asked to have a blood test or further examination / investigation – such as an ECG and / or chest x-ray
- You’ll also be given advice about when to take your normal medicines, if you have any
- An opportunity to ask any further questions you may have about treatment.
ERAS is short for Enhanced Recovery After Surgery.
Enhanced recovery is an evidence-based approach that helps people recover more quickly after having major surgery.
Many hospitals throughout the UK – although not all – have enhanced recovery programmes in place, and it’s now seen as standard practice following surgery for many procedures.
Further information can be found here with a list of guidelines.
PREPARE is a programme based on the principles of the ERAS programme – it was developed primarily for those about to undergo surgery to their oesophagus and / or stomach.
The program will provide coaching and tailored support in the areas of:
- Physical fitness
- Respiratory exercises
- Eating well
- Psychological wellbeing
- Ask about your medication(s)
- Reduce risk – e.g. smoking and alcohol
- Enhanced recovery after your treatment
Further information about the PREPARE programme can be found here.
Physical preparation may include:
- Certain exercises – from deep breathing exercises to improving core strength (tummy muscles) – although aimed at older adults you may find the advice given on the NHS website useful.
- Diet and nutritional advice
- Dropping “bad habits” – such as stopping smoking or stopping / reducing alcohol intake
- Ensuring other health concerns are addressed – for example; diabetes and / or blood pressure
- Reviewing medications – including discussing preferred pain relief (if this may be required during and/or after treatment)
- Making any adjustments to home or social support arrangements – if they may be required during and/ or after treatment – for example following PRRT couples are advised to sleep apart for 7-14 days – will you need another bed or will the sofa be good enough!? Do you have home help or other services that may need stopping temporarily or increasing to meet your needs?
- Sleep! Try to get enough sleep – just as exercise and diet play an enormous part in health, so do rest and sleep. If you’re struggling to sleep you can find some helpful information here.
Preparing yourself mentally is important too. This may include:
- Ensuring you have the information you need – in a way you understand
- Asking questions – and discussing any particular concerns you may have
- Ensuring you have the support you may need – both physically and emotionally – for example what helps you to deal with stress and worry
- Letting your support team know, you have treatment planned – if you are receiving support from Mental Health Services, (let them know when, where and for how long) – to ensure that they can put in place any additional support you may require
- Think about what kind of help you may need during or after treatment – from shopping to housework to just having someone sit with you for a while
- If you have others who are dependent on you i.e. parents, children, pets – are arrangements in place for them – so that this doesn’t become a worry, if help is needed?
- Managing expectation – being clear on the aim of treatment and how it might make you feel during and after treatment.
Neuroendocrine Cancer UK is a UK wide charity solely dedicated to providing support and information to those affected by Neuroendocrine Cancer.
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