Health-care consulting for families facing a cancer diagnosis

Cancer Champions offers compassionate guidance and clarity to you and your loved ones throughout your cancer journey.

As your trusted guide, we empower you and your family with knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions about your cancer care and regain your peace of mind.
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With Cancer Champions,
You Don’t Have to Face Cancer Alone

If you or a loved one is feeling overwhelmed and anxious by a cancer diagnosis, compassionate support is available. Cancer Champions can ease your fear and uncertainty by helping you and your loved ones understand your specific disease, collect personalized healthcare information, evaluate your treatment options, and make informed decisions. 

Combining oncology knowledge with genuine compassion makes Cancer Champions a trusted advisor that complements your cancer care team and provides peace of mind throughout your cancer journey. Call Dana to learn more about how she can help to create a personalized roadmap to guide you and your family.

CONSULTATION

When you are presented with a difficult diagnosis, most likely you don’t know what you don’t know yet. Because I have professional healthcare experience and have personally been through several cancer journeys, I compassionately work with you to create a personalized roadmap to help you and your family navigate the journey. I also provide resources and informationto to help you take the first steps.

EDUCATION

When you are making critical decisions — you need access to the most relevant information, tailored to your unique situation. With both professional and personal experience researching treatment options and supportive care solutions for individuals facing cancer, I am uniquely qualified to offer families the types of information and resources they will need to make better informed decisions about their care.

FACILITATION

Upon hearing a cancer diagnosis, emotions often take control and inhibit decision making. Anxiety and fear may stifle important conversations that family members and loved ones need to have with the individual fighting cancer. I can help to facilitate these important but difficult conversations, with compassion and a kind and open heart.

From our inbox:

When my father was diagnosed with cancer I was in shock — and living 600 miles away. I knew he had been dealing with prostate cancer several years earlier, but I had no idea his cancer had returned and was so advanced.  

Dana was a true blessing. She went to see my father and assessed the situation quickly. Her knowledge of cancer was critical. She listened to the doctors and asked the right questions. She was far better equipped than us to discern what the doctors were saying — and counsel us appropriately. She monitored my father during his stay in the hospital and helped us navigate the transition to hospice. Dana was compassionate and a true professional all the way through to the end.

The nicest thing about working with Dana is her compassion. She has experienced the loss of her own parent to cancer and knows the confusion, uncertainty, and heartbreak involved. She is able to professionally communicate with the medical staff and gather the correct information — and translate it to us in an understandable way. Dana cried with us, prayed with us and was not afraid to be honest. I respected that.

— L.P., Atlanta, Ga

From our inbox:

As someone diagnosed with a rare, aggressive cancer just 5 months ago, I was overwhelmed and confused. I wasn’t sure whether my doctors were doing what I needed. I asked Dana to review my case and it was the best thing I’ve done since diagnosis. I’m so grateful I made the decision to work with Dana. For a very reasonable fee, she actually did more than expected. She is smart, organized, prompt, and compassionate. I am now much more confident regarding treatment options and what my doctors should be doing. My head has stopped spinning and I can sleep at night. Worth every penny.

— Lori R

From our inbox:

“It’s difficult to express in words the importance of an advocate when faced with a life-changing scenario like cancer. Dana was amazing, providing incredible counsel and guidance that was critical in the early days of our diagnosis. I could not imagine going through this again without the caring, loving expertise that Dana Hutson brought to our family. She is an angel.”

-Eric

From our inbox:

“5 stars is just not enough for Dana Hutson. Dana has been a godsend to our family.  We lost my elderly father with Dementia after a cascade of events resulting from an ER visit.   My family has been struggling to bring closure to this situation.

I met Dana after a presentation she gave . During the presentation she gave an example that exactly described the experience we had at the hospital with my father. We hired Dana to go back and research the entire 30 day hospital experience and assist us in understanding what happened. Dana spent numerous hours reviewing hundreds of pages of notes from 4 different hospitals.

Our experience is far too common across the country. Unfortunately, we didn’t meet Dana until after my father’s death. If we had had Dana’s guidance, our family’s  outcome may have been radically different. I highly recommend seeking Dana’s assistance in advocating and supporting you during any type of medical situation. We will forever be grateful to Dana for bringing closure to our family.”

-Maureen

From our inbox:

“Money can’t pay you back for the wisdom you provided my family.”

From our inbox:

“You have been an angel that came into our lives…we could not be on this journey without you…”

From our inbox:

” working with Dana has been an absolute blessing for my family. She was able to quickly assess my mom’s situation and immediately offer solutions that made a difference. Her knowledge and tireless legwork is a gamechanger for families trying to negotiate the healthcare system.”

-Sam

7 Questions to Ask Your Oncologist

It’s helpful to have a list of questions to ask your doctor when you are presented with a cancer diagnosis. Here are 7 questions to ask at your next doctor’s appointment.

Recent articles

Navigating Cancer Diagnosis: Flatten the Learning Curve

Navigating Cancer Diagnosis: Flatten the Learning Curve

Navigating cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming without specific subject matter expertise.  In fact, I have heard many people refer to navigating a cancer diagnosis as their second job. 

The question is: do you have the time to devote to a second job?

Sure, you may have the actual hours available to cram for this course. However, the learning curve of navigating cancer diagnosis is steep. Additionally, if you are caring for a loved one with a cancer diagnosis, there is an opportunity cost to embarking on the mission. 

Hours spent in self-study on “google med” is quality time that is not spent with your loved one. And without some guidance, you can’t even be sure you are studying the right material or have the right answers. 

Steps To Navigating Cancer Diagnosis

So, how should you navigate your cancer diagnosis? With the right guidance, you can significantly flatten the learning curve and increase your confidence in navigating cancer diagnosis. However, what exactly does that entail? 

The first step is recognizing that you need assistance to increase confidence in your decision-making. Additionally, working with a professional helps you avoid the common regrets of  “leaving something unturned,”  “should haves,”  and “wish I would haves.”  From there, follow these steps to ensure you’re successfully navigating cancer diagnosis:

Gather Information to Fully Understand the Diagnosis 

  • What is the pathology of your tumor?
  • What is the genomics of the tumor? 
  • Determine the stage and grade. 
  • Is your tumor considered rare? 

Research and Understand Your Options When Navigating Cancer Diagnosis

  • Based on your situation, what are the options? 
  • Is chemotherapy an option? 
  • Is radiation an option? 
  • Or is surgery an option? 
  • Are you a candidate for immuno-oncology? 
  • What is the best treatment plan for you?
  • Know the differences between complementary vs alternative medicines

What to Consider When Assembling Your Team

  • What impact does your diagnosis have on the selection of a specialist? 
  • And, are there limitations to your insurance plan?
  • Also, who has the most expertise in treating your tumor type and where are they located? 
  • Do you need multiple specialists? 

Prepare for Your Appointments With an Objective in Mind

  • Why is your physician recommending this option? 
  • And, how will this treatment affect your daily life?
  • What supportive care resources are available to you?  
  • Additionally, what is the role of integrative medicine and how will that be incorporated into your plan?  
  • Who is the physician overseeing your care? 
  • How will you communicate with your physician outside of scheduled appointments? 

Next, Understand the Financial Implications of Your Care and Navigating Cancer Diagnosis

  • How much of your treatment plan will be covered by insurance? 
  • And will your treatment plan cost you out of pocket? 
  • If so, how will you pay for costs not covered by insurance? 
  • Will you need financial assistance? 
  • Or, what financial assistance is available?
  • How will you access financial assistance? 

And Finally, Don’t Ignore the Importance of Mindset

  • What is your vision for the best possible scenario during treatment and beyond?  
  • Additionally, are there resources needed to ensure you realize your vision? 
  • What impact will your diagnosis have on your family and professional relationships?
  • Lastly, make a list of the resources you will need to best support your vision and where to find them.

Private Cancer Patient Advocate Near Me

So, do you need help flattening the curve of navigating cancer diagnosis? Consider soliciting the help of someone with the subject matter expertise. This ensures that you leave no stone unturned. 

Soliciting a tutor with subject matter expertise helps you quickly identify and address any areas where gaps exist. That way, you are guaranteed to put the best plan in place to maximize the chance of a successful objective and positive outcome.  

If you’re unsure who to call, a professional health consultant/ private advocate can help. Our team has subject matter expertise in cancer and navigating cancer diagnosis, so we can help you do just that. 

A cancer diagnosis is common. However, every family’s circumstances are unique. Contact Dana for a complimentary call to learn how we can help you flatten your curve.   

Cancer and Mindset are Independent: Control What You Can Control

Cancer and Mindset are Independent: Control What You Can Control

Cancer and Mindset Have you considered the relationship between your cancer and mindset? Understanding their interconnection is an important part of your cancer journey. Additionally, understanding what lies within your control is essential.

Cancer takes over a healthy cell’s capacity to regulate itself.  It literally takes on a life of its own within our bodies. Additionally, it is (quite literally) chaotic and uncontrolled. However, cancer is more than a physical disease.  A cancer diagnosis elicits a psychological impact that presents challenges beginning at diagnosis, compounding throughout treatment, and often remaining through recovery and survivorship. 

 Cancer changes us – those of us directly affected, as well as our loved ones.  

Therefore, this is not an article on the “power of positive thinking” and its effect on physical health and healing. (However, research reveals the influence psychological well-being has on the physiological health of someone with cancer.) Instead, this article outlines how someone facing a cancer diagnosis can take control of an out-of-control situation. All you must do is choose to believe what is possible or likely in your mindset. 

Cancer and Mindset Generally Fall into One of Two Categories: Catastrophe or Opportunity

How do your cancer and mindset correlate? The challenges associated with a cancer diagnosis (which are real) frequently cause a spiral of negative thinking. As a result, this leads to depression and anxiety. And of course, this is twice as common for people with cancer than the general population. 

However, not everyone with a cancer diagnosis responds with catastrophic thinking.  In fact, data reveals that two people with the same diagnosis, type, and stage of cancer, can have opposite psychological responses.   I have seen this within my own practice. 

One person’s psychological response results from a mindset that cancer is catastrophic and their thoughts are consumed with worry and anxiety causing them to retreat from activities they enjoyed prior to their cancer diagnosis leading to depression. The other person’s response from a mindset that cancer is challenging but manageable fosters thoughts driven by a renewed appreciation for life, inspiration for personal growth, and motivation for positive lifestyle changes. 

Remembering that mindset is a belief about the nature and processes of things in the world, let’s look at some of the biggest influencers of cancer and mindset. 

Factors That Influence Cancer Mindset: 

  • Your Personality 
  • Personal Coping Style 
  • Your Socioeconomic Status 
  • Your Level of Social Support 
  • How Well You Trust And Communicate With Your Care Team

You Can Choose To Have A “Cancer is Manageable” Mindset and Control What You Can Control 

One of the ways to take control of the chaos of a cancer diagnosis is to give yourself some time to reflect on how you want to face this challenge.  You will be faced with many decisions and there is empowerment in being prepared to make thoughtful choices based on your needs and desires. 

To help you begin, consider the following:   

  • Who is supporting me?
  • What outcome am I most hopeful for? 
  • Are there spiritual components I want to practice?  
  • What does a “good” treatment plan look like for me? 
  • Where am I most comfortable receiving treatment?
  • Are there activities I want to continue during treatment? 
  • What side effects am I most concerned about? How can I mitigate them?
  • What am I willing to share with others and what would I like to hold privately? 

Each person will have a different “vision” of what “good” will look like for them.  And just as no one’s cancer story is the same, no one’s vision will be the same.  

Taking the time to create a vision for yourself will give you a clear picture of what you want the next several months ahead to look like. Additionally, writing a vision and establishing a clear goal is a proven way to increase the chance of realizing your goal. 

Therefore, share your vision with your support system, family,  friends, and even your care team.  In doing so, you will take back some control to ensure that your needs and desires are understood so those around you can do their part to help you realize your vision.   

Your vision will provide you with a sense of peace and direction as you use it to filter the myriad of decisions you will face through the lens of what defines good for you. 

Cancer is common. However, every person’s circumstances are unique. Contact Dana for a complimentary call to learn how we can help you cast your vision.    

 

 

Cell Press. “Empowering cancer patients to shift their mindsets could improve care, researchers argue.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 September 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190923111233.htm>.

Resources and Support for a Cancer Caregiver

Resources and Support for a Cancer Caregiver

Are you serving as a cancer caregiver? If so, know that you’re not alone. In 2011, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index reported that more than 1 in 6 Americans working full-time or part-time was assisting with caring for an elderly or disabled family member, relative, or friend.

Today – 7 years later – complex cancer care is shifting away from the inpatient hospital setting and moving into the home. That’s why I am offering resources and support for a cancer giver in today’s blog post.

The 7 Aspects of Caregiving

I recently read the results of a study published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, that was designed to better understand the needs and quality of life concerns of those providing care to a loved one with cancer. They interviewed people who were caring for a loved one with cancer. Their answers fell into seven aspects of caregiving:

Physical Support for a Cancer Caregiver

Family caregivers expressed a desire to understand the patient’s needs as well as be present, attentive, and reassuring. The most repeated theme was the presence of and difficulty in dealing with treatment-related side effects.

Psychological Support for a Cancer Caregiver

Uncertainty was a common theme that often gave way to anxiety, stress, and feeling overwhelmed. Many caregivers expressed a desire to be present and offer support even as they faced a lack of emotional energy.

Social Support for a Cancer Caregiver

A recurring theme among those caring for a loved one with cancer was social isolation – felt both by the one being cared for and the caregiver. Caregivers reported needing support and not just information. A quote from one caregiver says that “ The details about the clinical trials available online needed to be supplemented with a person who could answer questions. “ This caregiver found the information to be confusing, overwhelming, and largely indecipherable. “ It’s just a lot of literature that I have no idea about… I did not go to med school; I don’t know what I’m reading. I need help”

Spiritual Support for a Cancer Caregiver

Having a faith community provided a source of support for those caring for a loved one with cancer.

Financial Support for a Cancer Caregiver

There were many costs associated with care, but the most commonly reported were the expenses of last-minute flights, gasoline, overnight hotel stays, restaurant meals, and time lost at work. Even those who reported having healthcare coverage and financial stability voiced anxiety about the financial impact.

Caregiver Self-Care

The majority of the respondents were neglecting self-care in order to care for their loved ones. Many reported a lack of sleep and exhaustion. The family caregivers in this study voiced their need for support and resources.

Cancer Caregiving Tips

Are you caring for a loved one with cancer? An independent health consultant with subject matter expertise in Oncology could supply some of the much-needed support to help you move forward with confidence:

  • Helping the family caregiver understand the disease and better anticipate the side effects associated with their loved one’s treatment eliminates much of the anxiety associated with uncertainty.
  • Connecting the family with community support services alleviates the isolation and allows the family caregiver an opportunity for self-care.
  • Providing clarification and understanding of the medical literature, specifically clinical trials and treatment options to increase confidence in decision-making.
  • Connecting the caregiver with resources to assist with managing the financial burdens associated with a catastrophic illness

Best Resources for a Cancer Caregiver

Are you or someone you know serving as a cancer caregiver? Are you feeling overwhelmed? If so, I have developed a resource to help you:

  • Educate yourself on the disease and help you know what to expect
  • Understand the medical jargon, treatment options, and clinical trials
  • Assemble your clinical and support teams
  • Locate financial, psychological, and social support
  • Manage your mindset

Invest in Your Guide to Navigating a Cancer Diagnosis today. Or you request a complimentary consult to learn more about how I can help. Call 703-403-7600 or email dana@cancer-champions.com today.

Schedule a get-acquainted call 

The first step is a free 15-minute get-acquainted call to see how I can help. The next step is to schedule our first 90 minute consultation  , where I will personalize a roadmap for you and your family, and determine next steps.