Sunday, August 10, 2014

My own health advocate. ..

My own advocate....

I read a very interesting research article a while back about cancer survivors having to be their own health advocate for the remainder of their lives.  

Once your hair has grown in, the steroid puff is gone, fatigue is fading and chemo brain's fog begins to lift, family,  friends and family doctors soon forget you've had cancer.

However,  the effects of cancer treatment remain...forever thereafter.  Once began, chemotherapy and radiation which saved your life from your original disease slowly has harmed the health you had clung onto.  

It's very important for a cancer survivor to stay on top of their health.  Eventually the only person doing so, your oncologist, becomes history.   Visits end after healing.

Some risks (there are too many for me to list) to be in mind of-to remind your regular family doctor: 

*Osteoporosis-chemotherapy is hard on your bones.  

*Future risk of developing other types of cancer-through treatment you've exposed yourself to enormous amounts of otherwise deadly chemicals.  Keep on top of prevention and so forth with your family doctor. 

*Those on tamoxifen following certain types of breast cancer need to keep up with gynecological appointments.  Do not skip a year! The drug has the risk of causing uterine cancer.  Remind your gynecologist of the fact you are taking tamoxifen at every visit. 

*Have Vitamin D levels monitored through a blood test.  This can be done, along with your cholesterol, during a routine yearly checkup.  Vitamin D is essential for bone health and also prevention of certain cancers.

*Heart health-treatment wears hard on your heart.  Maintain regular checkups.

Everyone tends to put the fact you've suffered through cancer, including yourself, in the past.  We don't want to remember.  Although we cannot live in fear of possible future problems, it's important to not bury our heads in the sand but rather be proactive in prevention.

This is why, tomorrow, I have an appointment for a bone scan.  Chemotherapy depletion of healthy bone plus the inability of my body to regulate and produce adequate Vitamin D (important for calcium absorption and prevention of a re-occurrence of breast cancer), are the reasons I personally want a check.  

I have to be the advocate of my own do you.  Cancer survivor or not.