Choices, Fourth Edition

Choices, Fourth Edition

by Marion Morra, Eve Potts


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For more than twenty years, Choices has been the leading source-book for cancer patients and their families. Fully revised to cover the latest medical and technological breakthroughs, Choices, Fourth Edition, provides the most up-to-date and essential facts on cancer, from diagnosis to recovery — medication and nutrition, symptoms and stages, and all available surgical and nonsurgical treatments — in an accessible, easy-to-use Q&A format. The book also includes checklists of essential questions for your doctor; useful Internet resources; a state-by-state listing of cancer-related programs, organizations, and services; reviews of complementary and alternative therapies; updated listings of chemotherapy drugs and their side effects; the facts on common misconceptions regarding cancer treatments; and advice on practical living concerns for both survivors and caregivers.

Recommended by health-care professionals nationwide, Choices is a unique and invaluable reference. Marion Morra and Eve Potts's clear, compassionate advice is on every page, offering reassurance with the informed knowledge every cancer patient needs to make the right decisions throughout the treatment process.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060521240
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/14/2003
Series: Choices: The Most Complete Sourcebook for Cancer Information
Edition description: Subsequent
Pages: 1136
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.82(d)

About the Author

Marion Morra, ScD, is an international expert in health communications. Former associate director of the Yale Cancer Center, she is anassociate clinical professor at the Yale School of Nursing in NewHaven, CT. Widely published, she is a member of the Board of Directorsof the American Cancer Society and of the Board of Directors ofthe International Cancer Information Services Group. She is a consultantto the National Cancer Institute and many major cancer centersacross the country.

Eve Potts has been writing about medical subjects for more than 30years. She has served as a medical writer and consultant to the Departmentof Health and Human Services and to many medically orientedcompanies and institutions. Her particular area of expertise is in makingdifficult medical information easily understood. Her interest in historicpreservation is represented by authorship of the book, Westport: A SpecialPlace.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Facing the Diagnosis

You have the diagnosis. Your doctor has told you that you have cancer. What happens next?

When a diagnosis of cancer is first made, you have the greatest number of choices concerning the kind of treatment best for you. Each decision may make the critical difference in the outcome. The wrong choices close the doors to other options. In order to make informed decisions, you need information, the kind of information that makes it possible for you to seek out the right doctor and hospital as well as sufficient information to make it possible for you to ask the right questions.

You need to put the whole emotional background of having cancer into perspective before you can deal intelligently with the diagnosis of cancer. For many people, the cancer word, the big C, still carries with it the old fears and myths, left over from the days when cancer was incurable. Today, with nearly five million Americans alive and most considered cured of cancer five years or more after their initial diagnosis and treatment, you need to be aware that cancer is considered and treated, in the majority of cases, as a "chronic" illness that can be managed for many years with proper treatment.
  • Cancer is a major illness but it is not necessarily fatal, contrary to what many people still believe.
  • You can have cancer and continue to enjoy life.

Anyone who has had cancer remembers the day the diagnosis was delivered. The mind became a blank. All the nagging fears that had been pushed to the back of consciousness landed in a huge lump in thethroat. The mind raced with dark thoughts of death and wills and horror at the possibilities of dreaded treatments and a limited future.

There's no question that the diagnosis of cancer is one of the low points in life. The real news is that more than half of the people with cancer are considered cured. For some types of cancer, nine out of ten people diagnosed can be considered cured. Many others will live a very long time before dying of cancer. There is hope for every patient. Some are cured at once, by surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Some are never cured, but their disease is controlled so they can expect to live for many, many years. Admittedly, there are some types of cancer where treatments may prolong life for no more than a few months.

It is important for you to know at the outset what category your type of cancer is so that you will not be worrying unnecessarily and so that you will be dealing with reality when you make decisions about your treatments and how you will be living your life. You need full information to make certain that you will be getting the very best possible treatment for your cancer as well as for your coping style, personality and living style. The best place to begin in collecting information, of course, is with your doctor. But, you need to search out further information on your own if you plan to be an involved consumer. The best place to start is by gettinginformation from the National Cancer Institute, where ongoing research puts cutting edge information at your fingertips.

Facts You Need To Know About Cancer

  • Over eight million Americans alive today have a history of cancer.
  • Five million Americans are alive who were diagnosed with cancer five or more years ago.
  • Most of the five million can be considered cured.
  • Cured means that the person has no evidence of disease and has the same life expectancy as a person who never had cancer.
  • In 1994, about 1,170,000 new cancer cases will be diagnosed. This figure excludes those who have basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, an additional 700,000 cases per year.
  • Things have changed. In the early 1900s, most cancer patients had no hope of long-term survival. In the 1930s, less than one in five was alive five years after treatment. In the 1940s, it was one in four, and in the 1960s, one in three.
  • Today, statistics show that when adjusted for normal life expectancy, a relative five-year survival rate of 52 percent is seen for all cancers.
Once you know you have cancer, you can live in fear, or you can learn to live with the facts and begin to do positive things to help yourself. Knowing the facts and facing them takes a lot of the scare away.Here are some basics for starters. Check them and see how many coincide with your own thinking.
  • The fact that you have cancer cannot be changed. The time that is most important in decision making is right now, at the very start, when numerous alternatives are open to you.
  • You must look at all the alternatives. If you make a decision to go ahead with surgery without sufficient testing or a second opinion, you limit the possibility for other choices.
  • Unless you stay calm and in control, a decision will be made for you by circumstances that will take it out of your control. Don't be afraid to say: "I'm going to take the time to learn all I can about this cancer and the options I have available to me before I do anything."
  • Caution: This does not mean postponing taking action. It means postponing starting treatment until you are personally assured that you're taking the right steps.
  • As a cancer patient, you must be an activist. You must become a partner with your doctors in the fight so you can live your life in the way that is best for you.
  • You have a right to ask questions just as you would as a consumer of any product or service. However, you need to learn what questions to ask, what the terminology means, and what the realistic possibilities are.

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