Side Effects of Lung Cancer Treatment: Is It Better to Know or Not to Know?

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Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Sarah Rosenbloom and patient survivor and advocate Janice DeArmas discuss the extensive treatment options and their possible side effects. Dr. Rosenbloom discusses what patients should consider before making their decision. Tune in to learn more. 

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.  

Susan Leclair:

Janice, when you were on chemo and radiation, were there things that you had to stay away from? Were there things that helped you just on a daily basis?

Janice DeArmas:                 

Well, one thing I will say is I think everything is on an individual basis.

For me, I didn’t have nausea.  The nausea medication made me, shall I say, constipated.  So once I stopped taking it, I was much better.  So the whole time, that wasn’t my problem. But I do know a lot of cancer patients do have problems with nausea. So again, I would say, like the doctor said, you’ll need to try different things to see what works for you, because it is truly an individual basis experience.  You can take all the advice you want to, but, at the end of the day, you’re just going to have to look and see what works for you. 

Susan Leclair:     

Sarah, do you have any process that maybe people could use as they look at one of the things that has amazed me today is the wide range of possibilities that people have. I’m almost getting like a decision block here. There are six different kinds of surgeries and 14 different kinds of medication and six different kinds of radiation.

And then there’s stuff for the side effects. And then there’s the immune system that we haven’t really talked about.  Is there anything out there that’s an immune stimulant? If I’m a patient, I think you might get just a mind block. How do you help patients deal with this overwhelming amount of information, serious decisions that have to be made about standard medication, supportive medication, advanced supportive situations? How do you handle that pool? 

Sarah Rosenbloom:          

Well, it certainly can be extremely overwhelming. And I think, I mean, you touched on all of the areas where you can have 5,000 choices. It can result in paralysis really in trying to figure out what am I supposed to be deciding right now?  And what are the best choices for me?

I think that’s one of the most important things is to think about primary and secondary and even, later down the road, goals in terms of what are the most important goals. And everybody is a little different in terms of their needs for information, believe it or not.  I think everybody probably in this room and who is online and who is a part of LUNGevity, and, in every way, they’re probably information seekers. But there are a whole bunch of people who aren’t, you know, and who would actually prefer to have less information. And that might help them cope a little bit better.

So I think figuring out what type of coper and what type of processor you are is maybe one of the first steps.  So, for example, do you need all of the different facets of information about each decision in order to make a decision? Or is there an idea that there’s a level of good enough information, and with that, you can decide to move forward?  And I think if you’re really having difficulty, and it’s hard to even be able to work through this with family and friends and even a group, you might even seek individualized support from somebody like myself or a counselor at a cancer center to be able to go through some medical decision making. 

And that certainly can involve even medication choices for managing things like anxiety and depression, because I think a lot of people think, well, I don’t want to take any more medicine than I absolutely have to.  But on the other hand, interestingly enough, if you have a carefully targeted dose of an anti-anxiety medication, that can do wonders for nausea.  That can actually help anxiety, which decreases pain exacerbation as well.  So you can actually target multiple symptoms with one strategy. And I think finding those unique ways, and as everyone has said, you know, for each individual person, it might be a little bit of a different approach.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on April 25, 2016