3 People You Need By Your Side During Cancer (and Haven't Met Yet)
These advocates are like second moms: They can help schedule appointments, connect you with support groups, and remind you to do things like sign up for physical therapy. Some have clinical backgrounds and are qualified to partner with patients and providers in designing a treatment plan. Others, some of whom are survivors themselves, have been trained to explain care options and deal with insurance snags as well as transportation and meal delivery. Monica Dean, program manager for hospital systems and patient navigation for the American Cancer Society (ACS), notes that patients who pair up with navigators tend to have fewer missed appointments and ER visits.
Recruit someone to come with you to every appointment and keep a record of what your doctor says. Bonus points if she isn't easily rattled. If this means calling on more than one person to help, make sure everyone stays in touch.
Studies suggest that yoga can benefit breast cancer patients by reducing inflammation, easing depression, and combating fatigue. Jenny Finkel, a Chicago yoga instructor who teaches at Northwestern University's Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, says the breathing exercises and poses help relieve the mental and physical complications of treatment, including the tight pectoral and weak shoulder and upper back muscles that can result from breast surgery. If you can't find a class specifically for cancer patients, Finkel recommends looking for the words restorative, gentle, beginner, or Iyengar and filling in the instructor on your history.
Did You Know?
Patient navigator services are free and available nationwide, says Dean. The American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer now requires its 1,500-plus accredited cancer centers and programs to provide them. You can also find out whether any of the 100 ACS-trained navigators across the U.S. are near you by calling 800-227-2345.