How to take control of your cancer treatment

Dealing with cancer treatment can feel physically and emotionally overwhelming at times. With so much new information to take on board, all those appointments and hospital visits, and important decisions being made about your care, it can sometimes feel as if things are out of your hands.

So, what can you do to feel more in control? Here are some Live Better With  planning tips and practical strategies to help you take control of your cancer treatment… Continue reading “How to take control of your cancer treatment”

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6 key questions to ask at your first oncology appointment

You might be wondering what to expect from your first oncology appointment. Thinking of the right questions to ask your oncologist about your diagnosis, or what to ask your doctor about cancer treatment can be an added pressure at a difficult time.

So we’ve compiled some key questions for your first cancer appointment, to help you make sense of living with cancer.

Continue reading “6 key questions to ask at your first oncology appointment”

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Live Better With teams up with innovative cancer planning journal

The CanPlan planner is a fantastic tool to help people living with cancer to take control of their disease and find ways to self-heal

canplan cancer planning journal
CanPlan is an all-in-one tool for patients and caregivers

Here at Live Better With, we’re constantly updating our product range as we’re always on the lookout for new things that have made a difference to the day-to-day life of someone living with cancer.

Today, we are so pleased to announce that we are teaming up with the new, innovative cancer planning brand, CanPlan, and will be their exclusive UK stockist.

US-based CanPlan is a one-of-a-kind planner designed to assist cancer patients and caregivers with the daily battles of cancer, by providing words of encouragement, reminders for positive living, and a tracking method to monitor the illness day to day. It is an all-in-one tool for patients and caregivers to take control of their cancer.

Continue reading “Live Better With teams up with innovative cancer planning journal”

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5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Appointment

Doctor's appointments picture - 5 top tips for

An upcoming doctor’s appointment can put dread and fear in even the bravest of people. Doctors hold information that you need, and not knowing can build anxiety and stress. Visiting the doctor is also quite different to other appointments; there are often substantial waits, and visits can really vary in length.  Continue reading “5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Appointment”

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Myths and misconceptions: cancer medication

Myths and Misconceptions: Medication

You may find yourself prescribed a lot of new (and probably unheard of) medications when diagnosed with cancer. And that’s not taking into account treatment. People may need multiple pills a day, which can cause confusion and low adherence. Additionally, some medications, such as morphine, are stigmatised and can lead to misinformation. So we’ve cleared up some of the common confusions on the subject of medications and cancer.

I don’t feel well. I must need antibiotics

Antibiotics are often a source of comfort when fallen ill. At the first sign of a cough or cold, people commonly look to their doctor to prescribe them antibiotics.

Antibiotics kill bacteria, but different antibiotics kill different bacteria. Therefore, taking antibiotics that you were prescribed for contact dermatitis, for example, may not work if you start taking them for a chest infection. Also, antibiotics will not work if your symptoms are not bacterial related.

In the last few years, healthcare professionals are seeing more patients becoming resistant to antibiotics due to overuse. This can be problematic in the cancer setting if you become unwell and need antibiotics; as you may find the bacteria is resistant to the antibiotics you are prescribed.

I don’t want to take morphine because I don’t want to become addicted

Morphine is commonly prescribed in the cancer setting for pain relief. It comes in many forms and can be taken orally, injected into the skin (subcutaneous) or directly into the vein. For patients with advanced cancer, pain can become a significant problem that will affect their quality of life. Morphine and other types of opiates are clinically proven to help alleviate pain, and most importantly, improve functionality associated with pain.

There is a misconception, though, that if you take morphine or any type of opiate you will become addicted. And to a degree this is true; opiates, such as morphine and heroin are abused and often sought for their euphoric “high” effect. But if you are experiencing pain that can be controlled by opiates and are not experiencing these highs it is highly unlikely you will become addicted.

Patients can develop tolerances to opiates, meaning the dose or medication they previously used may not be as effective over a period time and you may be required to increase your dose of medication or add/change medication. Tolerance and addiction are different, and not necessarily associated together. Many patients worry that they are on too high a dose of pain relief, due to tolerance, but if it relieves your pain and allows you to keep up activities without side effects, it is the correct dose.

I feel better, I can stop taking my medication

Although medications can help dull side effects and symptoms, they can also treat conditions.

If you complain of a headache and take pain relief, it is usually acceptable to stop taking pain relief once your symptoms resolve. However, for some side effects or symptoms, they may return if you stop taking your medication. There are some medications, as well, where you don’t feel any different while taking them. Equally, for some medications, such as steroids or antidepressants, stopping medications, as oppose to slowly decreasing the dose over a period of days to weeks can be problematic.

Your doctor should be more than happy to discuss your medications and whether you need to continue taking them. But it is very important to follow the instructions given by the healthcare professional.

If the symptom doesn’t go away, it’s ok to take more medication

All medication has something called a therapeutic window. The therapeutic window is the range of medication where it is effective and you won’t experience toxic side effects (you could think of it as Goldilocks trying the three different porridges).

Taking more than the recommended dose puts you at risk of having toxic side effects, some of which can be very harmful to your kidneys and liver. Your doctor or emergency department should be contacted immediately should you find yourself in immense pain, or with severe side effects or symptoms that you cannot manage with medication dose prescribed.

The more medication you need, the more unwell you must be

Not necessarily true. Cancer is a complex disease, and people often find themselves on more medication during their cancer treatment then they have taken in the entire lives! Just because you find yourself on more medications that someone in a similar position to you, does not mean you are more unwell. Being a complex disease, everyone reacts uniquely to information, treatment, and medications; and this may cause you to need more medications, or at a higher dose.

I’m taking a medication and don’t feel well, but I guess that’s to be expected

No, if you start experiencing side effects of medication, whether mild or severe, it is very important to inform your treating doctor or nurse immediately.

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