New and Old Strategies to Alleviate Side Effects Improve Physical, Emotional and Financial Well-Being
MIKE HENNESSY, SR.
SIDE EFFECTS, INCLUDING FINANCIAL toxicities, are an unpleasant fact of life for most people undergoing treatment for cancer, but that should not be the case. That’s why strategies for working through them lie at the heart of this issue of CURE.
The topic of our cover story — getting the highest possible value out of cancer care — is important for both our readers and our nation, as costs are continually rising. Sometimes a very expensive treatment is the only good option, but when there are several choices, it is worthwhile for patients to make some comparisons to determine whether they can safely avoid financial hardship. How much will each treatment cost? What side effects and health outcomes are expected with each therapy? These kinds of questions can help patients determine which course is really best. Our article advises readers on how to weigh their options and suggests additional strategies, including avoiding unnecessary imaging and medical procedures.
Physical therapy can help patients overcome a host of other side effects of the disease and its treatments: not only problems with bodily functions, such as walking or swallowing, but also one of the most common and bothersome issues patients with cancer face — fatigue. In another article, we explain how patients can access this underprescribed service.
A means of calming the emotional side effects associated with the cancer journey is explored in a feature on the practice of mindfulness. The article explains how this mind-body technique can help patients and survivors and offers resources for those who want to try it. Another piece about emotional health during cancer treatment discusses the healing effects of humor.
Side effects are explored further elsewhere in the issue — one article discusses the high rate of post-traumatic stress disorder among cancer patients and survivors, and another describes how acupuncture can ease joint pain associated with the use of aromatase inhibitors in women with breast cancer.
Rounding out the issue are articles on carcinoma of unknown primary, a rare cancer; a patient-written piece on how to choose a clinical trial; inspirational photographs and insights from one woman’s cancer journey; and news about people making a difference in the cancer community.
We hope that by delving into this special issue, you’ll find a host of suggestions you can use on your own journey to ease the side effects of treatment and improve your quality of life. As always, thank you for reading.