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Strategies for Navigating A Cancer Journey


Shubham Pant, MD: Nancy, when was the first time somebody actually said the word cancer to you and to Taylor?

Nancy Bell: It was in the surgeon’s office when we went for the pre-surgical consult, and we didn’t know, and I said I know that we have a mass but we don’t know if it’s malignant or not. When will we find out? And he looked at his physician’s assistant and he looked back at me and he said I’m not sure where you’ve gotten your information from but there’s nothing benign about this tumor. And so that was when we realized that it was cancer. And I think the inconclusive part from the bronchoscopy was maybe them waiting for the surgeon to tell us maybe. Maybe it wasn’t as inconclusive, we just didn’t know yet.

Shubham Pant, MD: And did you have any resources to help you at that time? What did you. At that time, the air goes out of the room, right?

Nancy Bell: Right.

Taylor Bell Duck: Right.

Shubham Pant, MD: Everybody just pauses and there are so many things going on and I don’t know, as a 21-year-old, did you have that realization in a way?

Taylor Bell Duck: Thankfully, I have two parents that are involved and educated, and so they were able to do some research and spoke with a lady at our church who had also had a similar diagnosis. And they got online and researched, and that’s how we ended up at Duke was from that connection and her advocating and Mom advocating that we wanted to get to the best place that we could to get my care. But utilizing advocacy organizations.

Shubham Pant, MD: Family, friends and advocacy.

Taylor Bell Duck: And family friends, yeah, absolutely made a difference in my journey of my care.

Shubham Pant, MD: Do you think there was any information you wish you would have known at diagnosis about hey, what is this cancer? What are the resources out there? Is there any other information you wish was out there at your diagnosis that you would have known which would have helped you in your cancer journey?

Taylor Bell Duck: I think what would probably have been most helpful is to feel comfortable, being able to ask questions when the conversations were probably a little bit over my head. I think you get, information just comes at you so fast that you kind of sit there and try to take it all in but it’s overwhelming. And you’re also in a state of shock and then you’re also in kind of a state of survival. And then on top of all of that, you don’t feel well. So I think any time, I kind of employed different things that I thought were helpful for me, including never going to an appointment alone.

Shubham Pant, MD: That’s a very, very, that’s a great point.

Taylor Bell Duck: Right. Making sure that I had a place to keep kind of all of my records, and bills, and any type of communication that was given to me. Because everybody knows when you go into a doctor’s office, you get a discharge paper and it starts to pile up.

Shubham Pant, MD: I’m a doctor, I know.

Taylor Bell Duck: Right. And so you might not have a chance to look at it right then, but you might need it down the road. I had a big tote bag and I just stuck everything in there, so when bills came, we stuck it in there; paperwork, stuck it in there. Another thing that I did was that because I was in college and I lived farther away from my healthcare facility, I asked for copies of my scans. So, if I ever happened to need to present in the emergency room or somewhere for some reason, making sure that I had that information available to me was something that was important to me.

Shubham Pant, MD: That’s very, very impressive, Taylor for a 21-year-old to do that. I wouldn’t think. What do you think, Nancy, how did you help? Taylor is obviously very accomplished in maintaining. I don’t think I could have done at 21 what Taylor did or I could maybe not do it right now.

Nancy Bell: One of the things that happened was that she was actually diagnosed or they found the mass on fall break. And she had been to the school student health services, and they had records and we needed them, and we needed them now. So we actually got in touch with, we couldn’t get anybody at student health because the campus was closed, so we got in touch with the police who got in touch with the chancellor who went and made them unlock student health to get us the records that weekend. So, right off the bat.

Taylor Bell Duck: We knew the importance.

Shubham Pant, MD: Of keeping records with you.

Nancy Bell: And we knew, yeah, that we didn’t want to have to go through that again.

Shubham Pant, MD: So I think the three points, I’ll make them again, the first one was that you should never go alone or as much as you can, you should go with somebody else because you’ve got a second set of ears and eyes to go through what the doctor has said, to kind of absorb that information to talk about it, and great record-keeping.

Taylor Bell Duck: Yeah.

Shubham Pant, MD: Always keep great record-keeping and keep it all together and bring it up any time, and if you have to go to the EC or something then you can always bring it up.

Taylor Bell Duck: Right.

Shubham Pant, MD: That’s very important.

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