The "C" Word - Fear or Fight?
Do you know the number one health killer in America? That is heart disease, but the number two cause is cancer. Men have a one in two chance of being diagnosed with cancer during their lifetimes; for women, the chance is one in three, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
There are a lot of rumors and myths about cancer that make it hard for people to know what’s true. Certain risk factors such as tobacco use, poor diet, obesity, over indulgence with alcohol can be mitigated. However, these types of behaviors can elevate the possibility of getting cancer. Even when a person with a risk factor is found to have cancer, there’s no way to prove that the risk factor caused the cancer according to the American Cancer Society.
Researchers have done many studies to see if there’s a link between personality, attitude, stress, and cancer. It’s known that stress affects the immune system, but so do many other things. At this time, there is no clear evidence that a person's stress level affects their risk of getting cancer. Also, cancer is not contagious. You can’t catch cancer from someone who has it. You won’t get cancer by being around or touching someone with cancer.
Sometimes, certain types of cancer seem to run in some families. In some cases, this might be because family members share certain behaviors or exposures that increase cancer risk, such as smoking or obesity. In certain cases the cancer is caused by an abnormal gene that is being passed along from generation to generation. Although this is often referred to as inherited cancer, what is inherited is the abnormal gene that can lead to cancer, not the cancer itself.
The dreaded "C' word when initially diagnosed by a medical doctor typically causes fear in the individual who is found to have it. Even though some types of cancer are more difficult to treat than others, there is still an element of the unknown that now must be dealt with for treatment. Once you have been told by a physician that you have cancer, the first questions are usually based on disbelief and the emotional trauma of the announcement. "How could this happen," and "What are we going to do"?
There have been many advances in the field of cancer in recent years. Overall, people with cancer today are living longer than ever. Despite that, it is understandable that cancer still invokes fear in people. Developing an action plan for how to deal with cancer is a priority when it comes to both pre and post diagnosis.
What are some action items you should put in place before you learn you have cancer:
Get regular checkups, wellchecks or physicals at least on an annual basis including lab work (blood tests, etc). Men and women over 50 especially should have respective screenings, such as prostate exams, colonoscopies, mammograms and other recommended tests to monitor your health and wellbeing.
Find physicians that you can trust who can provide reputable results and get to know you over time. Trust is at the heart of all relationships, and the one with your doctor is no different.
Reduce the risk factors in your life as much as possible. Eat well, exercise, don’t drink too much alcohol, watch your weight and don’t smoke at all.
Buy a cancer plan with an insurance company that can provide you a payout on initial diagnosis. You'll need all the money you can get to pay for treatments, transportation and lodging if you go out of town to a specialist, bill payments and living expenses. These plans can be purchased from agents who are appointed with insurers who sell cancer insurance.
What steps should you take after you have been told that you have cancer?
Build your medical team. Work with your primary care doctor to find a good oncologist who can provide more details about your case. Know that you are likely going to have more tests done and have additional consults to come up with a workable plan. You are going to want the best treatment available.
Build your support team. Talk with your family. Bring your spouse, children and others into the loop. Also, tell your friends about your situation, but don't share all the details. If you work, let your employer know your status and keep your manager in the loop. They are invested with you, too. You'll need as much emotional support as possible to get through the time frame for your treatment.
Build your knowledge about your situation. It pays to do some research on your diagnosis, but don't obsess about it. Otherwise, you can spiral emotionally by chasing rabbit trails that may not apply to you at all. The internet is a great source to find more information, but it can also lead you to stressing out. Sometimes too much material about a subject can be overwhelming.
A cancer diagnosis is the start of a very long and expensive journey for both the patient and the family. From the cost of treatment to the loss of income, the costs associated with cancer can often be too much for a family to even afford treatment. With the help of cancer insurance, your family can focus on what matters most – getting healthy again. As a licensed agent, I can help you with affordable options. Contact me soon to learn more about putting financial peace of mind to rest.