HOW SHOULD I EXPLAIN CANCER TO MY KIDS?
Q I was recently diagnosed with bladder cancer. I have two children'a 6-year-old son and a
teenage daughter. What's the best way to explain cancer to them?
A You'll probably want to take a different approach with each child. With your teenager, you can be direct. Explain how surgery may change your body, and mention that you might need to undergo chemotherapy. Your 6-year-old might not understand cancer, but you should prepare him for the possible changes in your appearance. Explain that you may have a bag attached to your belly to help drain your urine. If you're uncomfortable having these conversations, consider bringing your
children to one of your exams. Ask your healthcare provider for help in explaining the situation. Websites like cancer.net and cancer.gov can also offer guidance.
'Bruce J. Roth, MD, oncologist, Washington University School
of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
CANCER AT BAY
Q I was recently treated for breast cancer. The treatment was a success, and I'm recovering now. What can I do to prevent a recurrence?
A Follow your healthcare provider's advice. If your cancer was "estrogen sensitive," meaning the hormone estrogen encouraged your tumor to grow, your physician may recommend that you take medication to lower the amount of estrogen in your body. These medications are generally taken for five years or longer. Don't skip any doses or cut your course short, since that can boost your chance of a recurrence. You can also help put the odds in your favor by maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, exercising regularly and limiting your alcohol consumption to no more than one drink a day.
'Robert S. Miller, MD, FACP,
ASCO official, Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins
Q My husband has had lung cancer for five years. Recently, he was taken off chemo. Now he has tremendous difficulty sleeping through the night'he'll doze for only a few hours at a time. What can we do?
A Certain medications can affect your biological clock, so your husband may just need time to return to a normal sleep-wake cycle. Another possibility: The change in treatment may be causing stress. If your husband was accustomed to having chemo, he may be anxious now that it's over. He should talk to his healthcare provider, and he should consider exercising and avoiding naps and caffeine'especially before bed.
'Sonali Smith, MD, ASCO official, associate professor, Section of Hematology/Oncology, and director, Lymphoma Program, University of Chicago Medical Center
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