Better Skincare During Cancer Treatment

Looking your best can have you really feeling your best — and that’s particularly important for cancer patients. We all know how satisfying it is when our skin is smooth, our nails buffed and polished, and our hair perfectly styled but for those undergoing treatment for cancer, finding that fulfillment can be especially hard. Many patients encounter challenges and changes to skincare during chemo and other therapies to treat cancer. As the treatments attack and kill cancer cells, they are also affecting skin cells, the body’s first and most visible line of defense against the outside world. Rashes, dry and brittle nails, and itching skin are all common impacts on skincare during cancer treatments, along with the more well-known side effect of hair loss in chemo patients. In a way, changing skin health can be a good thing, as it signifies cellular changes, suggesting a treatment is heading in the right direction; however, for patients who are already battling serious side effects, disruptions to their lives and financial stress, having another thing to worry about will seem like anything but positive news. And while effects on skin health may seem a nuisance in the grand scheme of obstacles that cancer patients are facing, dry, cracked skin can be extremely painful as well as put patients at further risk of infection, meaning it’s important that they take skincare during cancer treatments seriously. There are ways that patients can promote skin health — before, during and after treatment. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center advises patients to begin a skincare regimen about one week before undergoing chemotherapy. The facility suggests using fragrance-free products, such...

5 Common Types of Cancer Treatment

Exploring the many different types of cancer treatment that are available may seem overwhelming to many patients. Each patient’s individual diagnosis and prognosis should dictate the course of treatment, as no two cancers are exactly alike and need unique approaches to ensure the optimal chance for success. There are pros and cons to all of the treatments, such as recovery time and side effects, which patients should review with their team of oncologists to determine which treatment may be best. No matter the course that is decided, patients should also explore options for financial assistance, such as Life Credit’s Living Benefit Loan program, through which they can borrow against their life insurance to pay for lifesaving care. Determining the best course of action can be challenging, but paying for it shouldn’t be. So review these top five most common types of cancer treatment and then make a plan to get back on the path to health: Surgery: This option is most often used for cancers that have not spread and are localized. Skilled surgeons will remove the tumor in either open or minimally invasive surgery. The patient may be cleared following surgery or could need additional treatments. Radiology: Some patients will utilize radiation therapy to attack and kill cancer cells. This is a more prolonged treatment than surgery but is often very effective. Depending on their case, patients may undergo external beam radiation therapy in which a machine directs the radiation into the body, or internal radiation, in which the person ingests a pill or liquid form of radiation. Chemotherapy: This is one of the most known treatments because...

How to Choose a Cancer Treatment Center

A cancer diagnosis brings with it a seemingly endless list of questions: which treatment to pursue, how to get financial assistance for cancer patients, how to continue to manage daily responsibilities and countless other concerns. Before getting to those details, however, patients need to find a cancer treatment center and assemble a team of qualified experts. According to the American Cancer Society, selecting who will deliver the care is perhaps the most important decision cancer patients will make in their journey. ACS offers a number of tips for those exploring how to find a cancer treatment center that is well-versed in their particular diagnosis. ACS advises that one of the best places to start is with the physician who diagnosed the cancer, as he or she may have experience with particular centers or hospitals that would be a good match. Even if the physician offers a suggestion, it’s important to consider several options in the quest to find a cancer treatment center. Patients should determine which facilities have specific experience with the kind of cancer they’re facing and meet in person with the team of specialists to have all of their questions answered upfront. Beyond experience, consider location, travel time and availability of clinical trials. There are also certain standards that patients may want to ensure their top choices meet. The Joint Commission, for instance, has a thorough accreditation process that cancer facilities must meet. Those looking to find a cancer treatment center will want to make sure their potential picks meet the minimum accreditation threshold. The Commission on Cancer also has a comprehensive list of 1,500 cancer centers...

Creating a Plan After a Cancer Diagnosis  

Planning is essential for any major life experience: going to college, buying a house, having a baby. Getting details in order, schedules on track and options sorted can help the best decisions be made, with the best outcomes. The same can be said for unfortunate situations such as a cancer diagnosis. A cancer care plan is an often-overlooked yet highly essential component of a person’s journey through and beyond cancer. From the day a diagnosis is delivered to the moment the news of remission comes, being prepared and informed through a cancer care plan can make each step a bit easier. What is the best way to make a cancer care plan? It’s important to proactively consider the different areas of your life that will be changed by your diagnosis, and then explore the options and opportunities that exist within each to make those changes more manageable. A typical plan could include: Treatment: Among the most important aspects of a cancer care plan is treatment. This portion of the strategy should include research about healthcare facilities, physicians and different treatments available. Patients should understand the ins and outs of each treatment, including the costs, side effects and recovery times. Finances: A cancer care plan should address the patient’s overall financial picture, including estimated costs for treatments, co-pays, and other medical expenses. This aspect of the plan should also include resources for financial assistance for cancer patients. Caregiving: Cancer can interrupt daily responsibilities, such as caring for children or elderly parents. A cancer care plan can address how those obligations will be handled during a patient’s treatment and recovery, including rotating schedules of family...

Managing the Costs of Cancer Treatment

The list of things cancer patients have to manage can seem endless: doctor’s appointments, childcare, transportation, insurance challenges, and more. Loved ones may offer assistance for some of the workload and hospital programs can also help with some of the stress. One area where patients may struggle looking for assistance is cancer financial help. Finances can be among the most stressful aspect of a cancer diagnosis. From treatment bills to co-pays to medication costs, the costs can quickly add up, and cancer financial help isn’t always something patients can seek from family, friends, or healthcare providers. There are a few steps patients can take to make cancer financial help a reality: Make budgeting a priority: When a cancer diagnosis happens, financial obligations may change dramatically. It’s important to reassess one’s monthly income and expenses. Write out all money that comes in and goes out—estimating treatment or medication costs to the best of your ability—to see where some costs can be cut back or where extra financial support is needed. Seek cancer financial help in the form of loans: Initiatives like Life Credit’s Living Benefits Loan program allows patients in need to draw on their own life insurance policies for quick and easy loans. Patients can be connected with cash in just a few days, and once the loan is repaid, they resume control over their insurance policy and can continue to reap its benefits. Connect with your healthcare provider’s financial consultant: Many hospitals and cancer care centers offer patients a financial consultant to help walk them through their care costs. Consultants can connect patients with funding programs, show them...

Cancer Basics: Understanding the Care Required to Treat Cancer

This is part one of Navigating Cancer Care, a three-part series that will provide cancer treatment basics, including guidance on finding financial assistance for cancer patients. No matter who the patient is, getting the news that you have cancer is a life-changing moment, one that does not come with a roadmap. Few people realistically anticipate ever receiving that diagnosis, so if it does come, most are not only unprepared for what their next steps should be, but also lack an underlying understanding of cancer treatment basics. A measure of awareness about what comes after an initial diagnosis can go a long way toward easing patients’ minds and shedding light on the path forward toward health. So what are some of the cancer treatment basics? Each cancer has to be treated on an individual basis, as the area of the body it is affecting, its level of progression, the person’s age, and many other factors affect a potential treatment plan. In general, however, these are some of the most-common treatment approaches: Surgery: This is often the first line of defense against cancers that have yet to fully metastasize, or spread. There are a range of surgery options, from minor to more invasive, depending on the person’s individual case. Chemotherapy: Perhaps the treatment most publicly associated with cancer, chemotherapy involves the delivery of a drug regimen to attack and kill cancer cells. The therapy is often associated with side effects such as nausea and hair loss, though symptoms vary widely. Radiation Therapy: In this treatment, radiation is used to damage and ultimately kill cancer cells, with the aim of shrinking tumors....