Dr Uchenna Okoro, a con- sultant clinical and Radiation Oncologist at Evercare Hospital Lekki, has said diagnosis of cancer is without doubt one of the most traumatizing discussions patients will have to go through.
Dr Okoro, whose core spe- cialties include malignancies of the Breast, Genitourinary tract, Gastrointestinal tract tumors, Gynecological malignancies, Prostate malignancy and Head and Neck tumors, explained that the emotional and psychological burden of this disease is occa- sionally so much for patients to handle which may be the reason why cases of depression in patients with cancer are higher when compared with other non- communicable diseases.
Such a diagnosis, he said, is expected to result in physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual changes in the individual, thus strategies for coping with this condition are crucial to the patient as it may lead to improved treatment outcome.
He sais: “With cancer as one of the leading terminal illnesses today he explains further that the most important first step for a patient just diagnosed with cancer is understanding the diagnosis and disease process.
“ Discussions with the managing physician should provide information on the type of cancer, location of the cancer, stage of the disease, is the disease treatable or not, treatment options, side effects of treatment, cost of treatment, what happens if patient declines any treatment and life changes to expect during and after treatment.
“Having open minded con- versations with your managing physician is of immerse benefit as it creates the opportunity for both patient and physician to be on the same page as regards treatment expectations which makes tracking of treatment progress easier.
“Patients are also encouraged to join support groups which could be institution based or in form of a non-profit organiza- tion, these groups usually have members that have undergone or undergoing treatment for similar illness and as such lots of coping strategies are discussed and made available to members.”
He went on to add that “maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for any patient being managed for cancer. This will not only improve your energy level and help you manage the stress and fatigue of the cancer and its treatment but will positively impact treatment outcomes.
“Choose a healthy diet. Get enough rest and exercise if you can. Patients who can exercise during treatment not only deal better with side effects but also may live longer.
“Lifestyle changes will need to be discussed, these changes usually include work schedules as work interruptions should be expected while on treatment, physical activities that form part of the patient’s daily routine will need to be adjusted as disease or treatment conditions may not allow a patient carry out such tasks.”
In conclusion, he stated further that “It’s important for patient to allow family or friends and in some cases where accessible professional caregivers to assist patients deal with some of these demands.