Saturday 26 October 2013

The process of cancer treatment; Part III – tests, reading materials, documentation

We were at the Cancer Assessment Clinic just last Tuesday, Oct. 22nd. By Friday, the 25th, we'd been phoned for three appointments for the next month: a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, a Computed Tomography (CT, AKA 'cat') Scan, a bone scan to determine if there are cancer cells in the bones, and follow-up with the surgeon, after all the data was in.
Most importantly, for us, we've been documenting names, dates, doctors, health data, appointments, in the booklet we were provided, although other types are available.

Why do tests?

In education, we test to assess, diagnose, evaluate causes, determine treatment, and determine progress after said treatment.
It is important to understand at which stage the cancer cells sit (Stages I, II, III,  or IV) and if or where they are have spread and are growing.
For example, if you have Stage II Prostate Cancerthis is what you can expect:

From: Understanding Lab and Imaging Tests
The surgeon was amazingly illustrative about our range of options, depending upon test results, of course. The best treatment depends upon how invasive the cancer cells have become, and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. His office, and his nurse, gave us copious amounts of reading material. For the most part, everything he talked to us about was in the booklets we had been given. We need not memorise it! Hubby wisely put it aside that day and the next. Then, he read it all. I flipped through some of it, but couldn't not digest it all.

Reading Materials

As with any information it can be overwhelming. Seeing as the MRI is the next test, I will read up on this specific test, google a map for the centre where we will go, and parse it out that way.
The doctor offered up several websites where we could get the best information. I knew of these from my M.A. on-line research and had published a post on it. I had done a great deal of research for my book, and knew where to go.

 Even so, many websites provide contradictory information. You must be a wise consumer.
I found, when both my parents were dying of cancer, there was little information once they were in treatment. Now, we can find articles such as Bone Marrow Cancer Survival Rates. Neither were likely to be cured, and they underwent treatments that reduced their quality of life. Mom had radiation in 2005, then one chemotherapy treatment, developed a blood clot and died. Dad had radiation that gave him an infection, UTI, and his missed Mom's funeral whilst in delirium.

My guidelines for reliable research...
  1. Check the source of information is non-profit, e.g., Canadian Cancer Society (.org), University , or a government (gc= Government of Canada; gov= US government). Not CARP or AARP. They are lobby groups.
  2. Check the credentials of the writer.
  3. Check for date of publication.
  4. Determine if the site is selling a particular drug and has a bias or could have been paid to provide the information. It is common. I get the requests daily.
  5. Figure out who is paying for the site. Avoid those with Google ads.
  6. Avoid sites with spelling errors. 
  7. Check references for specific articles or issues. Bad research with poor construct validity abounds, as well as poor data or unreliable data.
  8. Ensure that the content applies to you and your specific situation; the type of cancer, the stage of cancer.
I have a hospice client I visit with Stage IV, palliative bone marrow cancer, leukemia. I've been gathering resources for myself, as advocate, as well as information for him. He is in the latter stage of care. (See the image.)

Some of the good websites: 

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