By heatherericksonauthor.comThe Erickson Family

Category Archives: Patients

Staging Your Cancer

Doctors stage a patient’s cancer at the time of diagnosis. Doctors determine the extent of your cancer, such as how large the tumor is, and if it has spread, using x-rays, lab tests, and other tests or procedures.  This is called the “stage” of your cancer. By staging cancer, your doctor can determine among other things, how aggressive the cancer is and how aggressive the treatment will have to be.  Today we will look at how these staging systems work. Most staging systems include information about (1): Where the tumor is located in the body The cell type (such as adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma) The size of the tumor Whether cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes Whether cancer has spread to a different part Read more…

Office Visit

There’s a difference between a general physical and a regular office visit. Knowing the difference can save you a lot of frustration when dealing with your doctor. What’s an office visit? An office visit is when you will discuss a new or existing health problem. You may get additional tests run or a referral to a specialist who deals with this problem specifically. Your doctor may prescribe a medication to treat the problem or reassess an existing prescription. This is also the type of visit you have when you want to talk about several vague problems that you’re concerned might add up to something more serious.   What’s a general physical? A physical is all about preventive healthcare. Regular screenings and a general review of Read more…

recurrence

The metaphor of a rollercoaster is often used to describe cancer, and for good reason. The ups and downs of your emotions, your schedule and the status of your health affect a patient and their family from the moment you suspect there’s a problem. This is especially hard for children, who have far less information than adults do, about what’s happening, They depend on their parents to help them know how to respond to these peaks and valleys. The first thing you can do to help your children through a recurrence of your cancer is to assess how you’re handling things. The good times After enduring the hard times of cancer treatment and finally being declared NED, in remission, or even “cancer-free,” you want to Read more…

Interpreter

Have you ever thought about what it’s like to have limited English speaking skills? How would you handle things like a doctor’s appointment? There are things such as disabilities, and being a Limited-English speaking person (or LEP), which can affect your communication with your health care team and your access to support services.  Today, we’re going to learn why an interpreter is a crucial part of health care for people who aren’t fluent in English. 18%, or 47 million people in 2000, spoke a Language other than English at home. 8.1% of the population, age 5 and older spoke English less than “very well” (2000 US Census) Check-in Downstairs A few years ago, our local clinic was getting a major renovation. For 2 years they Read more…

Advance Care Directive

What is an Advance Care Directive? People often think of an advance care directive in the context of a terminal illness, such as cancer. But, this legal document should be in place for unexpected emergencies, such as car accidents, as well. It is also known as a healthcare declaration, a directive to physicians, a medical directive, a health care directive, and a living will. The exact terminology often depends on where you live. Planning Ahead: Yes, You Do Need One! Advance care directives are a powerful tool. They take away guilt and resentment that survivors may have regarding how someone has died. You’re able to be very specific about your feelings regarding end-of-life care, removing any doubts that various family members may have. This is Read more…

Baby Steps for resilience

Realistic goals are an essential part of becoming resilient on a cancer journey. Unfortunately, too many people have unrealistic goals. This leads to frustration; frustration with others and frustration with themselves. Thankfully, with some time and practice, these habits can be changed. Baby Steps toward Your Realistic Goals Realistic goals start by realizing that life is made up of baby steps, more than grand leaps and bounds. If you’ve ever been a runner, you know that a person can sprint at high speed for a short distance, but they could never run a marathon at that same speed. They would quickly burn out. It’s all about pacing, to ensure they can go the distance. Starting is Easy In the beginning, we start with a lot Read more…

Learn more about something

This is an important question for everyone. one I recently proposed to my dad. He recently quit his job and immediately found himself going stir-crazy; bored out of his mind. I said, “Dad, what do you want to learn more about?” He’s already highly educated, but there are no limits to what we can explore in this world. Why am I writing about this on a cancer blog? It can be all too easy for cancer to take over your life. Whether you are a patient, a caregiver, or another family member, your life can quickly be taken over by the big C. We may not get bored with life like my dad, but we can certainly feel like there is nothing worth waking up Read more…

Priceless4purpose

We’ve recommended Priceless4Purpose and Mystic Views to several friends facing cancer and they have had as good an experience as we did. Spotlight on Giving Back: Priceless4Purpose Being diagnosed with cancer plunges patients and family members into the quicksand of physical, financial, mental, and emotional overwhelm. It can be hard for patients to take a break in order to refresh. Priceless4Purpose: The Steve Bartlett Cancer Non-Profit Organization. is doing something about this by providing an opportunity for patients and a companion to stay at Mystic Views, a bed and breakfast in northern Minnesota. Cindy Bartlett knows the strain that cancer can put on people, as much as anyone. The story of this unique respite service began in 2005 when Cindy and her husband Steve decided to start Read more…

fatigue is why cancer patients are so tired all the time

This is a picture of my husband, Dan, during a 2-hour visit to the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. He became so tired on this trip, that he had to lay down. Most people experience fatigue at some point in their lives, but it usually doesn’t last long. Once you sleep or even just quietly rest for a while, the fatigue goes away and you feel refreshed. Have you ever wondered why cancer patients are always so tired? Healing takes energy I remember the fatigue of early pregnancy. When I asked my doctor about it, he said that building a human being within my body was the equivalent of climbing a mountain. I had never thought of it that way. It takes that same energy to Read more…

a shift in perspective

Today we’ll continue to look at resilience and how when things get hard, we can bounce. We will look at 4 ways a shift in perspective can make a big difference in our lives as we face cancer (whether our own, or cancer in the life of a loved one). Avoid seeing crises A shift in perspective doesn’t mean going into denial or sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich (which by the way, they don’t actually do). It just means that you reserve crisis mode for a real crisis, rather than situations that might someday turn into a crisis. Some people are natural worrywarts. They do what a former pastor of ours called horriblizing. They find the drama in every situation and Read more…

cancer survivorship tip

When people hear that my husband has survived for 6 years with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer they often ask me what our top cancer survivorship tip would be. So in honor of his 6th cancerversary, I have put together some of the best advice we have used and continue to use. Cancer Survivorship Tip #1 Get Educated I don’t mean that you should read articles filled with pseudoscience. You should find out exactly what kind of cancer you have and what the newest and older treatments for this cancer are. How can you expect this cancer to affect your life in the near future? One of your best resources will be your oncology team. That brings us to the next tip… Cancer Survivorship Read more…

Paperwork

Are you familiar with the different types of paperwork you should have in place when you have an illness like cancer? Today I’m going to give an overview of some of them and how we approached things like healthcare directives, wills, powers of attorney, and the POLST. Healthcare Directive Back in 2012, my husband filled out a healthcare directive. This paperwork has many names and is commonly called a “living will.” I recommend that everyone have a healthcare directive and that they fill it out while they are healthy. If you wait until you are sick, it is far more difficult to do because you will feel far more emotional about it, and likely overwhelmed. Because doctors had just diagnosed Dan with a terminal illness, Read more…

Metastasis

One of the most frightening words a cancer patient can hear is, “metastasis.” We learned in the post, Cancer Cells: Juvenile Delinquent Zombies, that one of the reasons that cancer is such a deadly disease is its ability to metastasize, or spread from one part of the body to another. Depending on what kind of cancer the patient has, the most serious form is known as “metastatic.” How Cancer Metastasizes The place where cancer first develops is called the primary tumor site. From there, cancer spreads locally, invading nearby healthy tissue. If too much time passes between the emergence of the primary tumor and treatment or treatment is unsuccessful, cancer cells will break away from the primary tumor site. They then move through the walls of Read more…

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