Guest Blog Post: Who’s on Your Team?
Today's blog post was researched and written by CancerCare intern, Breana McDonald. Breana is a Prep for Prep student. She currently attends The Hill School in Pottstown, PA, and she is interested in becoming an oncologist.
A person with cancer will usually consult with many health care professionals throughout his or her treatment and follow up care. Cancer is generally treated using a multidisciplinary approach, which means the members of your health care team with different areas of expertise will work together to discuss treatment options and make decisions. Here are the doctors and specialists you may encounter or may be on your health care team:
- A medical oncologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancers with chemotherapy, targeted therapies and other treatments. They manage your cancer treatment and coordinate with your treatment team.
- A surgical oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with surgery.
- A radiation oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating cancer using radiation.
- An oncology nurse is a health care professional who cares for a person with cancer by providing bedside care, preparing and administering treatments, providing supportive care, and educating the person with cancer and their family about their cancer, treatments, and side effects.
- An oncology social worker acts as a helping hand during and after cancer treatment by providing a variety of psychosocial services to the person living with cancer and their family. They can help you cope with emotional distress, provide individual counseling, inform you about support groups, and locate services and resources in your community to help with home care, child care, transportation and financial assistance.
- A dietitian/nutritionist is professionally certified to help people manage their eating and hydration needs related to cancer and its treatment. They can answer your questions regarding decreased appetite, weight loss or gain and chewing or swallowing challenges.
- A patient navigator can help guide you through the health care system and help you with any issues, challenges or barriers you may encounter. They may offer practical assistance with financial support, transportation and child care. In addition, they may assist in coordinating care with your doctors.
- A home health aide is a licensed professional who assists people with their personal care, including bathing, dressing and other activities of daily living. They may also assist with cooking and other household chores.
- A pharmacist is a professional who is qualified to fill prescription medications ordered by your doctor. They often provide information on how to take your medications, potential drug interactions and tips on taking your prescription medication on schedule.
Don’t forget that you are not only a member but one of the most important players on your health care team. The final decision, in collaboration with your health care team, is yours.