Jenna Forsythe, an oncology nurse at John Theurer Cancer Center in Hackensack, New Jersey, says many patients newly diagnosed with cancer will need to allow themselves time to adjust and to lean on their medical team.
"Once they get both feet on the ground and realize it's going to change, (they can) realize that there will be ways to manage this,” she says. “They have the whole multidisciplinary team to refer to.”
She encourages patients to be upfront with their medical team on side effects or other issues related to care. If they are hesitant to talk to their doctor about their side effects, she suggests talking with one of the nursing staff. “We’re their middle man. We’re there to help them.”
Forsythe says some patients worry their oncologist could take them off treatment or say there is nothing more they can do for them if the side effects are too severe, “but there are so many options out there for them now.”
Being proactive about symptom management is very important over the long-term. “If we can get rid of the side effects and manage their symptoms early on, they are going to have better outcomes,” she says.