|Ask Jai - How to balance urgency for treatment with good decision making|
My husband has pancreatic cancer, and my main concern is that I am doing all I can to help him get through this. What if I should be doing something that I don't know about, like finding supplements or a special diet? We are just getting started on this journey, and I would appreciate any advice you can offer. I feel like time is slipping away while we wait to start treatment, but I know his doctor just wants to make sure she is giving him the best care available.
Thank you for what you are doing,
You are right to pick up on the urgency for treatment. It is so hard to wait, which is what we spend a lot of time doing: to get an appointment, to see a doctor or different specialists, to get results from a scan or biopsy, to undergo surgery and then to recover from it. Remember, though: it took about 20 years for those cancer cells to grow and amass to the size they are now. Spending a few weeks to make sure your husband has the best treatment plan for his particular needs is worth the time investment.
I heard a wonderful phrase from another caregiver regarding caring for a loved one battling cancer: “This is a marathon, not a sprint.” Keep this phrase in mind as you prioritize your time and energy. That said, your anxiety is still real and needs to be addressed. Learning more about the type of cancer your husband has and the recommended treatments will benefit you down the road. Finding a support group, either online or through your oncologist’s practice, would put you in touch with a goldmine of information and advice from people who have walked or are walking your path right now. In addition to your family and friends, the cancer community will add tremendously to your support network.
Nutrition and exercise to keep the body strong is a good way to help prepare your loved one for treatment, its side effects, and cancer’s weakening of the body as well. Check with your oncologist for a recommendation to see a nutritionist. One of the greatest challenges the cancer patient faces is cachexia—a condition of muscle wasting, weight loss, fatigue, loss of appetite, and weakness due to an underlying illness such as cancer. Dr. David A Tuveson, MD, PhD, chairman of the Pancreatic`Cancer`Action`Network Scientific`Advisory Board and researcher at the Cambridge Research Institute in the United Kingdom, cited cachexia as a serious, yet overlooked, condition cancer patients experience. He has brought this syndrome to the forefront of pancreatic cancer research circles, calling for more attention to improving the cancer patient’s performance status to enable them to pursue treatments they might not qualify for if they are in poor health.
Thank you for an excellent question and best wishes to you and your husband.