This section provides information for people living with cancer. While a person experiences a variety of emotions, when a person first learns that he/she has cancer, the primary concern is survival. As treatment begins, however, new issues become important. Some of these include our relationships with others, side effects from treatments, and nutrition and diet. Living with cancer is a challenge, and it is best to be educated about issues surrounding cancer survival in order to live a full and productive life.
Sexuality and Cancer
Sexuality is an important part of everyday life, but a healthy sex life can be difficult to maintain when there are so many physical and emotional factors involved. Feelings about sexuality affect our zest for living, our self-image, and our relationships with others. Yet patients and doctors often do not talk about the effects of cancer treatment on sexuality. You have a right to know how your treatment affects nutrition, pain, and your ability to return to work. You also have a right to know the facts about your sexual health. The first step to learning more about sexuality and cancer is to discuss the topic with your doctor or other members of the health care team. If you do not feel comfortable talking to your physician or nurse or if you simply want more information on sexuality and cancer, visit the American Cancer Society website.
Diet and Nutrition
People with cancer may find it difficult to keep healthy eating habits. Depressions, anxiety, emotional stress, and chemical changes caused by the cancer can lead to a loss of appetite. In addition, patients experiencing side effects from surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may need special nutrition. Cancer patients can prevent weight loss and malnutrition by making an effort to eat the right amount of food rich in calories, protien, vitamins, and minerals. Your health care professional should be able to address any questions you have about nutrition and diet. Helpful cookbooks written especially for people with cancer offer dishes high in protein and calories and are available in most bookstores.
Hospice care focuses on providing humane and compassionate care for persons in the last phases of incurable disease so that they may live as fully and comfortable as possible. Hospice affirms life and neither hastens nor postpones death. Hospice care treats the person, and not the disease; and emphasizes quality, rather than length, of life. Hospice care is appropriate when the patient can no longer benefit from curative treatment. Hospice care may be provided in the patient’s home or in a facility that offers hospice care. Together, the patient, family, and doctor determine the time when hospice services should begin and which program is best.