Navigating Lung Cancer: Embracing a New Normal - Episode 5
Shubham Pant, MD: You probably received a lot of advice from friends, family members. What do you think was some of the best advice that you received and what you could tell other caregivers to use that they’re caring for a child or somebody young with cancer?
Nancy Bell: For us, because we had a strong faith and a strong relationship with our church, that was something that we could really lean into. And I’m aware that not everybody has that, but I guess I would tell young families that if you have a support system, it’s kind of like pay it forward a little bit because our church was an incredible resource for us, not just in their prayers but their on-the-feet action.
Shubham Pant, MD: Doing work for you and helping you along the journey.
Nancy Bell: Um-hmm. And the food was a huge issue. When you have five children.
Shubham Pant, MD: Three boys.
Nancy Bell: Right, right, trying to make sure that meals were prepared and nutrition is very important. So having that support system in place.
Shubham Pant, MD: Do you have any advice? You went through this when Taylor was young. Do you have any advice for caregivers in similar situations? Let’s say somebody else who is ..... at school, or college, or something, what kind of advice would you give to caregivers when their kid calls from an emergency center and says I have a mass? What are the learning points that you’ve, and we’ve touched on these before, but just together, what were some of the learning points that you used?
Nancy Bell: I think the main one is to ask all the questions that you have, continue to politely push. We always taught our children to respectfully question authority, and I think that’s a big part is that you’ve got to find a way to ask the questions that you want. And, if you don’t understand, to say, to be able to say that was way over my head, do you mind saying it again a little bit simpler?
Shubham Pant, MD: I think that’s a great point. So, Taylor, tell me, how important is your self education and self advocacy in the cancer journey? How important do you think it is for you? How important do you think it is for other patients going through this?
Taylor Bell Duck: Oh, incredibly important. So I think that knowledge is power, and so the more educated you can make yourself about what you’re going through, and your support team about what you’re going through, the better off you’re going to be.
Shubham Pant, MD: Wow, Nancy, you must be really proud of Taylor.
Nancy Bell: Really, really proud.
Shubham Pant, MD: I think she’s really ..... Taylor, what else did you, resources wise, did you think about? Have you changed anything after your cancer as far as nutrition is concerned, exercise is concerned? Have you changed anything since you got diagnosed?
Taylor Bell Duck: So, obviously, I’ll never be a Division I college athlete again, and that’s okay. It’s been interesting to kind of find a new normal in terms of fitness for me because I used to work out a lot and really hard, and I can’t do that anymore. I still am very active and have found things that work for me. And so I’m learning to play golf. I started a running group. I love running.
Shubham Pant, MD: A running group, nice.
Taylor Bell Duck: Yeah, we run at 5:30 in the morning.
Shubham Pant, MD: 5:30 in the morning, okay, I’m not joining that group.
Taylor Bell Duck: I like to be on the water. But, overall, I think I just make better health decisions in general. I was always health conscious, just because of being a Division I college athlete, you don’t have much of a choice. But just trying to make sure that I stay active, even if it’s just walking or taking the stairs one time, but just finding things that I know will make my life better at the end of the day.
Shubham Pant, MD: So the running club, is it like a 5K marathon running club or is it something which other people can .....?
Taylor Bell Duck: So we run for an hour every morning, and it’s like a run-walk matrix. It’s in my neighborhood, and I wanted to start it for people that were not fit because I think that’s one of the most difficult things for people is they’re intimidated to walk into a gym because they’re out of shape or to get on the treadmill because it’s scary. And a lot of running clubs are people that are running 6-minute miles. And they don’t want to go to that because clearly they’re not running a 6-minute mile. And so this club was really for the people that were extremely out of shape. So we started initially where we did a 4-minute warm-up where we just walked, and then we ran for a minute, and then we walked for a minute, and then we ran for a minute.
Shubham Pant, MD: So intermittent training and everything.
Taylor Bell Duck: Yes, and so we’ve worked up and now we’re running for about 18 minutes and then walking for a minute. And then we go back to 18 minutes and then a minute.
Shubham Pant, MD: That’s very impressive. Maybe I should move to North Carolina and do it out of shape and start running like two minutes and then walking like 10 minutes. But tell me this, Taylor, what do you think is the most important message you have for patients, caregivers who are experiencing a cancer diagnosis, especially young adults who get diagnosed with cancer? What is the most important message you have?
Taylor Bell Duck: I think to educate yourself as best you can about what you’re going through and to be an advocate for yourself. So the healthcare system is complex.
Shubham Pant, MD: That’s an understatement.
Taylor Bell Duck: Yeah, that’s an understatement. There are more and more people being diagnosed with cancer, and it is important for you to be knowledgeable about your disease and to be able to ask questions and to advocate for yourself. And if something doesn’t feel right, speak up.
Shubham Pant, MD: So go ahead. So what you’re saying is and keep your records with you. Always keep a great record-keeping and everything with you.
Taylor Bell Duck: Yep. So keep your records, never go to an appointment alone, find ways to communicate with your friends and family because oftentimes..
Shubham Pant, MD: Ask for help.
Taylor Bell Duck: Yeah, ask for help. I think the communication is key because friends and family sometimes don’t know like I should ring it up? Should I not ring it up? What should I say?
Shubham Pant, MD: That awkward silence.
Taylor Bell Duck: And so I think if you are comfortable kind of being open and honest about how much you want to discuss or how much you don’t want to discuss, so that your friends and family know kind of what you want.
Shubham Pant, MD: I think that’s a really important point because sometimes people don’t want to talk about it and they’re like, they don’t want to offend you ..... be outright with their diagnosis saying, hey, we both know I have lung cancer and we can talk about it.
Taylor Bell Duck: Right.