Health-care consulting for families facing a cancer diagnosis - Part 4

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.
Schedule a 15 minute get-acquainted call (free)Schedule a 90-minute consultation

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

Resources for families facing a cancer diagnosis

Now is not the time for multi-tasking. Take advantage of the resources in your community to find the support that you need.

A cancer diagnosis comes with a wide variety of physical, emotional and logistical challenges. Even the most self -sufficient individual can quickly become overwhelmed. This is not the time to try to do it all yourself. There is a vast amount of national and local resources available to help you meet your specific challenges.

Below are a few resources to assist you in locating the help you need.

  • Emotional support. It is not a sign of weakness to seek the support of patient support groups, individual counseling, or peer -to -peer support to assist you in managing the loneliness, fear or anxiety that often accompanies cancer. Cancer care
  • Financial assistance. When facing a cancer diagnosis money may be the last thing on your mind, however, a 2011 study by Duke University showed the average cancer patient in the US pays over $8,500 a year in out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance. Cancer is an expensive illness, even with insurance. There is help available: Cancer financial coalition, Give Forward
  • You may not always be able to drive yourself to your treatments or follow-up appointments. There is help for arranging transportation. ACS Road to Recovery program
  • Children and Cancer. Cancer does not discriminate. It is a disease that can strike at any age. National Cancer Institute
  • Home Care. There are a wide range of health and social services that can be administered in the home. Explore your options. National Cancer Institute
  • Specialty Supportive Care

These are just a few places to help you begin to gather the information necessary to inform the decisions you will face in managing your illness. Research and coordination of care are time-consuming and can often compound the existing stress and anxiety brought on by cancer. If the thought of coordinating care and finding resources while caring for yourself or a loved one with cancer is overwhelming we are here to help.  For an initial 30-minute consultation contact us at 703-403-7600 or email dana@cancer-champions.com.

 

What to do first when you are diagnosed with cancer

Shock, fear, anger and helplessness are the typical responses to hearing that you have been diagnosed with cancer. In the United States 1out of 2 men and 1 out of 3 women will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. However, due to advancements in science and medicine this is not necessarily a death sentence. In fact today there are an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the US and that number is projected to increase to 20 million in 2026.

Even as more and more Americans are “living” with cancer the fear of the initial diagnosis is often overwhelming and leaves the person with a sense of dread and uncertainty of what to do next.

Immediate next steps to take upon learning that “you have cancer

  • Secure a second or third pair of ears. Have someone accompany you on follow-up appointments to ensure you receive and retain the information you will need to make good decisions as to what to do next. Ask questions.
  • Research and gather information. What are the treatment options for your type of cancer? Are there clinical trials available? Who are the experts for my type of cancer and where are they located?   The Internet is a useful tool, however, it is not regulated, be critical of the sources you use.
  • Choose your healthcare team. Depending on the type of cancer you have, you may or may not need an oncologist (cancer specialist) For example; dermatologists successfully treat many skin cancers. If you do require a follow up with an oncologist, there are 3 types and you may need to see one or all 3.   Surgical oncologists treat the cancer with surgical intervention. Radiation oncologists utilize radiation-type modalities to treat the cancer and Medical oncologists treat cancer with medicines that may include regimens utilizing chemotherapy and/or targeted biologic therapies.

           Choose your team carefully. They will most likely be a part of your life for the next 5 years.

  • Find emotional support. Assemble a network of family, friends and community resources to help you manage emotional, practical and financial issues.

Information and knowledge are the most powerful tools to have as you plan and prepare for your individual journey. Do not be afraid to turn to outside support for assistance in filling informational gaps. Help is a phone call away.   For an initial 30-minute consultation contact us at 703-403-7600 or email dana@cancer-champions.com.

Not all cancers are created equal. Choose your healthcare team carefully.

In his 1971 state of the union address, President Nixon called for a cure to cancer.

Since then there has been $200 billion dollars spent and despite the research efforts put forth, cancer is responsible for 13% of all deaths and is predicted to overtake heart disease claiming more than a half million lives annually.

Why is this challenge proving to be so difficult? The answer lies in the individuality of our DNA. Cancer is a disease of our cells. When a normal cell divides, the cell’s DNA is copied more or less perfectly, however, each division brings about subtle and unique changes in the DNA. Although similar, one person’s cancerous cells are not exactly like someone else’s with the same “type” of cancer. The unpredictable nature of cancer cells makes broad cures elusive.

There will never be a single cure for cancer because cancer refers to a family of more than 100 different diseases. Different cancers require different treatments, hence understanding your cancer and your diagnosis is imperative to choosing the right cancer care team for your journey.

Things to consider when choosing your care team

  • Are they board certified in Hematology and/or Oncology?
  • How many cases of your cancer do they treat a year?
  • Do they participate in clinical research?
  • How do they stay current on medical research and clinical advances?
  • Do they listen to you and explain things in a way that you understand?
  • Do you trust them?
  • Are you comfortable with them and their staff?
  • How do they feel about second opinions?

*Not everyone will need a second opinion; however, if your team does not want you to pursue one that is a good clue that you should get one.

It is important to understand that not all oncologists have the same expertise.

For example, in 2015 the American Medical Association listed 14,000 medical oncologists in the US and 511 gynecologic oncologists.   Both specialties treat cancer, however, medical oncologists have broad clinical experience and knowledge of a variety of cancers.   Gynecologic oncologists focus specifically on cancers that are located on a woman’s reproductive organs. Gynecologic oncologists have completed obstetrics and gynecology residency and then pursued subspecialty training through a gynecologic oncology fellowship.

If you are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, a medical oncologist will be able to treat you, however, a gynecologic oncologist would have seen more cases of this type of cancer and be well versed in the latest treatments and research specifically for this cancer type.

Within a multi-physician oncology practice you may find that the medical oncologists differentiate their focus based on a specific tumor type allowing the practice to offer expertise in a variety of cancers.

It is important for you to ask yourself, how experienced is the oncologist with my cancer type? And, do I want the second opinion of an expert?

Your care team should be willing to assist you in obtaining second opinions and collaborating with experts in the field to provide you with the most relevant and effective treatment for your cancer. Often times the recommendations of an expert can be delivered by your local medical oncologist in his/her practice.

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.