How to Find the Support You Need



How to Find the Support You Need When You Have Lung Cancer

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More than 200,000 Americans are diagnosed with lung cancer every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but when it happens to you, it's easy to feel like you're the only one.

“A cancer diagnosis can make you feel very alone,” says Kathryn Gurland, LSCW, a social worker who founded PEG's Group, a fee-based cancer care navigation consulting service in New York City. Using resources in your neighborhood as well as national organizations can provide not only the medical information you want, but also the emotional and practical support that you need.

You shouldn’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help, says Marni Amsellem, PhD, a psychologist in Westchester County in New York and Fairfield County in Connecticut, who works with people battling cancer and other serious health issues. “Many people want to be helpful.”

The first step is to acknowledge that you need help. “It can be a huge deal for people who typically manage on their own to now reach out for support,” Amsellem says. But coping with lung cancer is not something you should face alone, she adds.

Support for Lung Cancer

Here are steps you can take to get the emotional and practical help you need to manage lung cancer.

Build a care team.Lung cancer is a complex condition and it’s important to build a support network of people who can work together to help you manage it. In addition to doctors and nurses, your team should include the following:

  • Oncology social worker:Can help connect you with resources, including transportation to appointments, lodging near your treatment center if it's far from home, and guidance for paying your deductibles and other costs
  • Patient or nurse navigator:These patient advocates can help coordinate care with the different people on your team. They may help you schedule doctor and other medical appointments, work with your health insurance company, and find other support services.
  • Therapist:Can help you talk about and “effectively treat any accompanying emotional distress,” Amsellem says.
  • Caregiver:Typically spouses, family members, or close friends, caregivers are essential members of your team and provide a wide range of support services. They may attend doctor appointments, help give medications, handle paperwork, and assist with everyday tasks like cooking and cleaning. You may also ask a caregiver to research treatment options, as some of the information can be distressing, Gurland says, adding to make sure they use reputable sites such as the National Cancer Institute or CancerCare.

Find ways to express your emotions.According to the National Cancer Institute, dealing with cancer can bring up a wide range of feelings, including anger, fear, stress, anxiety, and loneliness. It can help to share these feelings with family and friends. You may also want to consider journaling or blogging, Amsellem says. Any creative outlet, whether writing, art, or music, can be cathartic during this time, she says. CancerCareoffers an online writing therapy program called Healing with Words for patients who are receiving treatment or who have completed their treatment within the last two years.

Join a support group.A support group provides the opportunity to share concerns and ask questions of others going through similar treatments or who have similar concerns. Your family and friends, while helpful, may not have gone through the same situation, Amsellem says. A support group also provides opportunity for you to support others, and that can make you feel better in and of itself, she says.

Online support groups may make sense if you live in an area with limited options or if your health makes it challenging to attend an in-person group, Amsellem says. “The most important thing is to find a group that works for you, both in terms of group composition — feeling like there’s enough connection with other group members — and, of course, schedule or other logistics. If you're open to an in-person support group, try one out. Speak to the group leader ahead of time if you have questions or concerns.”

You may also consider one-on-one counseling with a therapist or social worker who specializes in cancer, Gurland adds.

Speak up.When friends and family ask what they can do to help, tell them exactly what you need — whether that's a ride to a doctor’s appointment or supervision for your children while you're undergoing treatment, Amsellem says. Those who offer assistance will appreciate knowing what errands and projects would be most helpful to you. But you may want to be discriminating about who you share your diagnosis with, Gurland says. Some people can be insensitive, even if they mean well, and that's not what you need at this time.

Look for financial assistance.Even with insurance, the cost of treatments and medications can be high. A number of organizations and companies help people with cancer pay their medical bills and negotiate with insurance companies and drug manufacturers.






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Date: 11.12.2018, 10:15 / Views: 33384