Shubham Pant: Taylor, do you think when you went through it you had to let’s say, you had someone in the church, somebody goes through the same, you know, I don’t know if you’ve had that experience of somebody going through the same thing, and how have you helped them, how you’ve used your own experience to kind of help them with the communication? Or how would you if you haven’t had, you know, that hasn’t come through till now?
Taylor Bell Duck: Yeah. So I actually feel like I’m like the go-to person, which is okay, I’ll all right, I’ll accept that role.
Shubham Pant: A lot on your shoulders.
Taylor Bell Duck: Yes. And I think what I always try to do is direct people to appropriate resources where they can get information that will help them. But, too, I think that so often we sometimes try to respond, or have an answer, to have a solution. And I think that oftentimes if we just take a minute and just listen and not be worried about what we’re going to say next is really, really important. So I always try to encourage people that have either been diagnosed or are trying to support a family member or a friend that’s been diagnosed is that they don’t have to have an answer for everything. Oftentimes people just want the opportunity to just talk, and that we don’t need to be worried about what we’re going to say next, but just being in the moment. And so that’s one of the things I really try to encourage people that are caregivers that are walking through this with somebody is just be there to listen.
Shubham Pant: So in the church does it say, you know, for this call your pastor, for this call Taylor.
Taylor Bell Duck: I do think word of mouth happens and then people are like, “Oh, well Taylor, you know, works in cancer, she had cancer, so she’s, go ask her.”
Nancy Bell: I think it’s a huge compliment.
Shubham Pant: It is a huge compliment, Taylor.
Taylor Bell Duck: It is; it is a huge compliment. And I think I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities where I’ve been very engaged in the cancer community. And so I am fairly knowledgeable about the disease, not clinically but about where to seek resources.
Shubham Pant: But just about communicating separate people which is very, very important. So, Nancy, if you had to talk to caregivers, you’ve been a caregiver yourself, both men and women, husbands and wife, what would you, what are kind of your tips that you would give them for communication, “here’s how you can make a journey, you know, a little bit smoother,” what all tips will you give them?
Nancy Bell: Well I think several of them we’ve talked about a little bit, but definitely taking somebody with you as an extra set of ears; taking something to write with and trying to basically take notes of any questions that you have, because the information comes at you so quickly and you may find the answer to that question later in the conversation, or you may have to actually ask the question.
Shubham Pant: Maintain a diary or something?
Nancy Bell: A diary and definitely seek a second opinion if you have any; well I think a second opinion’s probably always a really good idea I think if you have the time to do that. But definitely seek a second opinion if you have any questions or if something. If you’re asking the questions and the answers that you’re getting back aren’t lining up in your brain, then seek another person to see if you can get a better understanding. If you can’t, you can use somebody on your care team. Or you can get a true second opinion.
Shubham Pant: Tell me Richard, so for the patient who use mindfulness and every, do you use that for the caregivers? What kind of resources do you do for the caregivers, including mindfulness, including mind, body, spirt, and everything? So how do you educate them to take better care of themselves and for the patient?
Richard Dickens, MS, LCSW-R: Sure. That’s a big question and there’s a lot of ways to approach that.
Shubham Pant: You can break it up, yes.
Richard Dickens, MS, LCSW-R: Mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy to give them tools to address those thoughts that are jumping around. And when we’re in crisis they tend to jump from negative thought to negative thought. Reinforcing again what they already have used in the past. And also just a lot of what, and Nancy just ended with this, is the medical team. Is really you’ve got your supports, you’ve got your openness, you’ve got all of that, and your family and friends, if you’re lucky. And don’t forget the medical team, and don’t see the medical team only as your oncologist.
Your medical team after the treatment stage and beyond, and after a few months after that. It’s going to really meld into your primary care physician and other people. So, and don’t just turn to them, especially in oncology the nurse practitioner, the social worker, a physical therapist, patient navigator, more and more hospitals have that; and integrative medicine, which when I was diagnosed 20 some years ago there was no integrative medicine, and I don’t think there’s a comprehensive cancer center in America that doesn’t have a CAM or integrated medicine department.
Shubham Pant: To help the patients along. So I always, when I talk to my patients I always say, “It’s not like a hundred-meter dash, it’s like a marathon.” And probably a marathon with like hurdles, right?
Taylor Bell Duck: Right.
Shubham Pant: That you have to go through and you have to jump through and still keep on plugging ahead. But you know this has been cathartic for me also as a physician. And, Taylor, just your amazing journey, and Nancy as a caregiver, and Richard for all you do for the patients, thank you so much, I really appreciate it.