28 August 2010

living with cancer - watchful waiting

I am a patient man but when waiting for a medical procedure to be started I don't have a lot of experience with this, so I talk to other people and scan the internet.

For the second source, I am more cautious; don't want to get caught up with laetrile [apricot pits or B-17 mega-doses] or psychic energy bracelets, since I suspect that mucking about with experimental therapies [the former] and placebos [the latter] may be a bit late in the game, and, besides, does B. even want to consider then now?

But treatment hasn't started, in large measure due to other complications that might be minor when having a broken leg recast; but major when considering the potential effects of chemo if, say, one's immune system is already compromised.

So I am drawn to learn more about the idea of "watchful waiting." Watchful waiting is not a euphemism for doing nothing, but rather it is the decision to delay treatment in favor of careful monitoring for the progression of cancer. Watchful waiting may also be referred to as expectant management, conservative management, observation, or surveillance.

I realize that some of the sources I have looked at identify cancers other than esophageal cancer, but I suspect there is wisdom to be gleaned from these other sites as well.

Cancer Research UK notes that
"...It is hard enough to cope with a diagnosis of cancer. If you then have to wait a few weeks or months to have scans, or begin treatment, you are likely to feel very frightened and frustrated. Many begin to worry that the cancer will spread during this time. But cancers usually grow very slowly and this is not likely. Most cancers develop over many years and do not show up on a scan until they have been growing for some time. So waiting a few weeks for a scan or treatment does not usually affect how well the treatment works.
     You will start your treatment sooner if your doctor feels your treatment is urgent. Your doctors would not make you wait weeks for treatment if they thought it was going to reduce your chance of being successfully treated.
     It may help to let your doctor know if you are worried about waiting for your treatment. It is likely they will be able to reassure you that although waiting a few weeks for treatment is very hard, overall it will not change your outcome.
Of course, on weekends, the specialists are not likely to be around to reassure you. And the on call doctor may or may not know anything about your case, condition, or frame of mind.

As one sitting beside the bed, the angst remains high as well. But, as the folks say, you watch and wait. I pray for an end to the set backs.

RESEARCH SOURCES: 1- Cancer Research UK ~ Waiting times for tests after diagnosis; 2- Prostate Cancer Treatment Guide ~ Watchful Waiting Description; 3- The Wandering Visitor ~ Are you the on-call doctor?

1 comment:

  1. "I pray for an end to the set backs."

    Me too...