If there is one thing that patients attempt to avoid, it’s a visit to the local ER.
The mere mention of the ER conjures up visions of long delays, sitting in uncomfortable waiting rooms for hours on end, trying to avoid being coughed upon by your neighbor, while you attempt to ignore the wails of crying babies.
Patients rank a trip to the ER high on their “heck no, I won’t go” list, right alongside other medical procedure “favorites” including root canals and bowel preps for colonoscopies.
However, there are times when a trip to the ER is absolutely necessary. For gastrointestinal cancer patients, those times may include, among other symptoms, unexplained persistent pain, bleeding from the bowels, and bouts of vomiting.
During this past weekend, which happened to be an extended three day holiday, one of our fellow patients contacted me regarding her situation. She was experiencing intermittent periods of vomiting throughout the weekend. I suggested that she contact her PCP (primary care physician) and immediately head for the local ER.
Just like most of us, she responded with a series of excuses for not wanting to visit the ER, in spite of her physical distress.
“My doctor isn’t on call this weekend” to which I responded “The ER staff will call him.” It’s no secret that hospitals are privy to physicians’ private phone numbers that we patients may not have access to.
“I don’t want to sit around in the waiting room” to which I responded “Call the ER ahead of time, tell them you are a cancer patient, and that you are on your way in.” In consideration of our compromised immune systems, and multiple special needs, the staffs of many emergency rooms will provide cancer patients with expedited admission to the ER.
“I don’t want to interrupt my family during this holiday weekend by calling to ask them to pick me up” to which I responded, either call them ASAP or call a cab and go now.
Here’s why it’s important to go to the ER, if you can reach your PCP immediately and be examined by him/her in his/her office:
Repeated vomiting can be a symptom of a variety of serious complications including a bowel obstruction.
Even when not related to a bowel obstruction, repeated vomiting can lead to dehydration and a serious imbalance of electrolytes. This imbalance cannot be corrected from sipping water (and sipping water may actually increase vomiting) but must be addressed via IV infusion. An imbalance of electrolytes can lead to serious heart and kidney damage.
With admittance to the ER, this patient could be evaluated using appropriate laboratory tests, as well as scans, if required, and could receive appropriate treatment, thus avoiding serious complications.
Fortunately, she finally agreed to be taken to the ER where she is now being treated.
Become a proactive patient by:
Recognizing symptoms that warrant a trip to the ER,
Having your emergency medical records binder on hand, at a moment’s notice,
Keeping a duffel bag packed with overnight supplies (prescription meds, eye glasses, an interesting paperback or electronic tablet, etc)
Compiling a list of phone numbers of friends/neighbors you can call “in a pinch” to drive you to the ER.
Being a prepared, pro active patient, will help you to eliminate some of the excuses and delays for making what could be a life saving trip to the ER!
Articles posted in PMP Pals and on www.pmppals.org are written from the perspective of patients and their family caregivers and are not intended to substitute for licensed, professional medical or legal counsel. Each patient is unique and should seek the advice of their own specific healthcare professional. Copyright © 2011 by Gabriella Graham/PMP Pals’ Network/All rights reserved. Visit us on the web at www.pmppals.org
May is National Cancer Research Month!
Within the PMP Pals' Network, every month is cancer research month, but May has been specifically designated as such, nationally!
For more than a decade, the PMP Pals' Network has provided donors with the opportunity to:
1. learn about current research studies for the treatment and cure of Appendix Cancer, Pseudomyxoma Peritonei and Peritoneal Surface Malignancies, in general, and to
2. donate directly to those programs, selecting to support the physician/researcher of your choice, and
3. send your donation directly to his/her program without administrative cost deductions from any "go between support groups!"
Click here to read about the innovative research studies being conducted by "Pal" physicians around the world, then send your donations directly to them!
Click here to read more about National Cancer Research Month and other cancer care related events
Caregiving for a Loved One By PMP Pal Caregiver, Ginny, USA Ginny has served as a Pal Mentor to other family caregivers for more than a decade. Today she shares the following suggestions for other husbands, wives, families and friends who are caring for a loved one: Patient Advocacy In addition to being a good listener and “cheerleader”, the caregiver must be the patient’s advocate, especially during hospitalization. Mis-communication may occur among doctors, nurses and family members. Mistakes will be made. It is not necessary to have a professional medical degree in order to serve as an advocate for your family member! Ask questions of the medical staff. Serve as an extra pair of eyes and ears for the patient. When necessary, go to “battle” for your patient, who may be unable to speak for him/herself. Carry a note pad, take notes of questions that you want to ask the medical staff, and keep records. Listening Skills In order to be a good listener, it’s important to keep the patient involved in his/her care. Patients need to talk about their fears, feelings and pain. Patients need to feel like a human being and not be treated like a non-entity. While my husband was making important decisions about which course of medical treatment to choose, I was his “sounding board” and listened to the pros and cons, but the final decision was his to make. Encouraging the Patient Patient depression may occur, even if the recovery is going well. In addition to being a good listener, the caregiver needs to maintain and calm and positive composure. In my case, this means wearing bright colors when I visit my husband in the hospital, and keep an “upbeat” appearance, even if I am tired. Maintaining Balance Lastly, take care of yourself, and, for your own good, maintain a sense of humor! For more articles like this, visit www.pmppals.org Don’t forget to visit our “Caregiving” page!
Articles posted in PMP Pals and on www.pmppals.org are written from the perspective of patients and their family caregivers and are not intended to substitute for licensed, professional medical care. Patients should seek the council of their licensed healthcare providers. Copyright © 2011 by Gabriella Graham/PMP Pals’ Network/All rights reserved. Visit us on the web at www.pmppals.org
Mom with Stage IV Cancer Denied Custody of her Children!
Introduction to Essay: Alaina Giordano, a 37 year old mother of 11 and 5 year old children is fighting two battles of her life…one against Stage IV breast cancer, and one against her estranged husband, who has won custody of their two children. A family court judge in North Carolina, where Mrs. Giordano resides with her family, has now granted primary custody to her estranged husband, who has moved to Chicago. This articulate mother, spoke graciously on national TV this morning and explained that her diagnosis as an “incurable” patient was the primary reason custody has been awarded to her husband. Mrs. Giordano indicated that her children do not want to leave her, don’t want to be uprooted from their family home and don’t want to transfer to Chicago. The following is my essay, a portion of which was read on ABC News/KGO Radio in San Francisco, CA this morning, May 11, 2011.I am an Incurable Cancer Patient too!by Gabriella Graham, Founder and Patient AdvocatePMP Pals’ Networkwww.pmppals.org I have been a Stage IV incurable intestinal cancer patient for the past thirteen years. Thanks to amazing advances in cancer treatment, and palliative care, I have greatly outlived my original prognosis of "18 months" that was handed down to me by Drs. Doom and Gloom in 1998. I saw Aliana Giordano interviewed on national television this morning. She appeared articulate, caring and healthy. By all outward appearances (and we cancer patients do our darnedest to look as well as possible) one would never guess that this woman is a cancer patient. She credited her local healthcare team at Duke Cancer Institute for providing monthly medical treatments that have resulted in her cancer remaining stable, without progressing, for several months. Indeed, she may be a cancer patient for many, many years to come...as a matter of fact, she may live long enough for a cure to be developed for her! The judge cited concerns that “the course of her (Mrs. Giordano’s) disease is unknown”…interesting! Is the course of any cancer patient’s disease truly known? Will this judge’s assumption set a precedent for the millions of parents who are diagnosed with cancer each year? Who can accurately predict how long Mrs. Giordano will live? Even her oncologist cannot make this prediction. Does the judge know something that Mrs. Giordano’s physicians do not? I encourage the public to rally around Mrs. Giordano, provide her with ample financial support to maintain her home, with custody of her children, and to defeat her so called “husband” in court! Articles posted in PMP Pals and on www.pmppals.org are written from the perspective of patients and their family caregivers and are not intended to substitute for licensed, professional legal or medical advice. Individual should seek counsel from licensed professionals regarding their specific needs. Copyright © 2011 by Gabriella Graham/PMP Pals' Network/All rights reserved. Visit us on the web at www.pmppals.org For more articles by Gabriella Graham on the topic of defying the doomsayers see: Cancer Patients CAN Outlive the Statistics! How Much Money is a Cancer Patient’s Life Worth? Stop Picking on Steve Jobs!
...for thousands of cancer survivors around the world!The mothers who participate in the PMP Pals’ Network come from all walks of life and from all corners of the globe (we serve 48 countries!) Our “PMP Pal Patients” and “PMP Pal Family Caregivers” include young moms, married moms, single moms, moms of twins, moms of quads, grandmothers, great grandmothers, mothers in law, and moms whose adult children are appendix cancer patients! Whether you are experiencing your own medical treatment, or are serving as a caregiver to a loved one diagnosed with cancer, you have all faced serious challenges. Many of you are now relishing holidays, including Mothers' Day, even more than you did prior to your diagnosis.Here's what one mother of four youngsters told me this week, six weeks following her surgery: "This Mothers' Day will be especially special. I wake every morning and thank God for the new day and ask him to help me use it wisely." Congratulations to all the moms, and their families, this weekend, as we celebrate Mothers’ Day around the world! Articles posted in PMP Pals and on www.pmppals.org are written from the perspective of patients and their family caregivers and are not intended to substitute for licensed, professional legal or medical advice. Individual should seek counsel from licensed professionals regarding their specific needs. Copyright © 2011 by Gabriella Graham/PMP Pals' Network/All rights reserved. Visit us on the web at www.pmppals.org
Have you recently been diagnosed with Appendix Cancer?
Are you currently receiving treatment for Appendix Cancer? Are you "veteran Pal" and now disease free from Appendix Cancer? View photos and mini profiles of fellow Appendix Cancer Survivor Pals!