Even on the best days, cancer treatment can be confusing for the caregiver and the patient. From fully understanding a diagnosis, to figuring out a suitable meal plan for the patient, there are bound to be several questions that pop up in your head from time to time.
It is neither possible nor practical for your oncologist to be available to answer your every question in real time. This is where it becomes important to have a mentor or a care manager to handhold you through confusing moments, to enable you to understand your options better so that you can make better decisions.
Lack of sufficient information
Take for instance the experience of Ravi M* of Bihar who was prescribed a direct laryngoscopy by his oncologist. To begin with, he was unable to understand exactly what this test entailed. He had found that the test could be done at a well-known hospital in Patna. He travelled a distance of 80 km to reach that hospital hoping to return to his town that same evening, after having completed the direct laryngoscopy.
On reaching the hospital in Patna, he was informed that they cannot undertake this test on the same day. This infuriated Ravi as he was unprepared for an overnight stay in Patna and he simply could not understand why the test could not be completed within 24 hours when it was merely a 45 minute procedure.
This lack of understanding of the procedure caused him to conclude that the hospital was merely trying to conduct some additional tests to increase the bill amount. Amid this situation of mistrust and miscommunication, Ravi decided to ask an expert for advice. He called Onco.com, where a care manager immediately gauged the situation.
Help with understanding procedures
The care manager walked Ravi through what a direct laryngoscopy is. A direct laryngoscopy involves pushing down the tongue and lifting up the epiglottis.
The epiglottis is a cartilage that covers the windpipe. This cartilage opens to allow air for breathing but closes while swallowing to prevent the entry of food into the windpipe.
In the case of Ravi, the direct laryngoscopy was to be performed to examine and possibly remove a small growth in his larynx, and also to collect any samples for further analysis.
This procedure is done under general anesthesia.
This brings us back to the question on Ravi’s mind: why can’t they do the direct laryngoscopy the same day, so that he can leave Patna and return home? This is a very pertinent question, particularly during a pandemic and intermittent lockdowns. Apart from the expense of spending a night in Patna, Ravi also did not want to expose himself to the coronavirus by staying in unfamiliar locations and was keen to return to the safety of his home.
The care manager understood the dilemma that Ravi was facing, but she also knew that there were certain x-rays and imaging tests that would need to be carried out before the direct laryngoscopy takes place. Additionally, the patient is advised not to consume food upto 8 hours before the procedure.
A little information goes a long way
Once Ravi was explained all of the above details, he received better clarity on why it was necessary for him to wait till the next day for the laryngoscopy. To further allay his fears, the care manager arranged for the oncologist at the hospital in Patna to meet Ravi and go over the procedure again and answer all his questions about it. This process helped Ravi make an informed decision.
While Ravi was very glad to have received this expert help at the right time, he also wished he had received this information earlier. Had he known about it, he could have planned his journey better and would have been mentally prepared for the procedure itself.
A little expert help at the right time can save not just time and money but also a lot of unnecessary anxiety and confusion.
When time is a crucial factor
Other times, expert help comes in handy when you need to avail a facility at short notice. Another cancer patient’s family discovered this when they needed to avail a PET scan at short notice, during a lockdown.
The patient’s family frantically called Onco.com on a Saturday night, at 11pm, seeking a PET scan appointment for early morning on Monday. Diagnostic centres, like all other businesses, are required to remain closed on Sundays during lockdowns.
Several diagnostic centres are also unable to function during this time due to short supply of the required medications. The care manager managed to find a diagnostic centre in the same locality that agreed to book in an appointment for Monday morning.
Within the next two hour, the prescription was validated and a radiologist was consulted. This ensured that the patient could have their PET scan on Monday morning without any delays.
While we continue to face unforeseen hurdles owing to the new normal enforced by this pandemic, a little timely help can go a long way in easing the burden of your cancer treatment at such a time.