When someone is first diagnosed with cancer, there’s a lot to take in and process. Oncologist Dr. Seth Berk, who practices at the Mount Holly RCCA office, helps counsel thousands of people through this difficult time. Below, he shares some advice he’d like every newly-diagnosed individual and their loved ones to know.
1. You have a measure of control and you’re not alone.
Many patients with cancer feel like they’ve lost control over their body. But by staying involved in shared decision-making about their healthcare, patients can take back some of that control. As you make decisions about what’s right for you, you don’t have to go through it alone. Dr. Berk recommends bringing a relative or friend to as many appointments as possible to provide emotional support. However, he wants loved ones to know that these appointments are about the patient, and to be sensitive to his or her needs.
In addition, the RCCA care team will be by your side to guide you throughout the entire process. Dr. Berk explains, “The whole philosophy and structure of RCCA is about making the latest therapies available in a community setting, so that you’re not traveling far from home to a large, impersonal institution.” RCCA can also connect you to support groups and other resources that some patients may find helpful.
2. Use information to empower – but with caution.
After receiving a diagnosis, many people turn to the Internet for more information. Dr. Berk encourages patients to do this because knowledge can be incredibly valuable and empowering. However, not everything on the Internet is true or applies to your situation. He says, “I urge my patients to stick to reliable sources, such as the websites of the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, medical professional societies and well-known, respected patient advocacy groups.” Otherwise, he warns, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or get confused by misinformation. If you come across something online you’d like to learn more about or try, always discuss it with your oncologist first.
3. Individuals living with cancer have more reasons to be hopeful than ever before.
As science continues to advance, patients have access to more and better treatment options than at any time in the past. While Dr. Berk stresses that it’s important to strive for a realistic outlook, it’s also essential to stay hopeful – and with good reason. “In the 13 years that I’ve been practicing here in Mount Holly,” he says, “we have had entirely new classes of therapy become available that allow us to achieve complete remission in many instances or, in other cases, to extend life for 10 to 15 years or more while maintaining a good quality of life.”
RCCA is Here to Help
The road from patient with cancer to cancer survivor may be long and difficult, but the expert oncologists and dedicated team at RCCA will provide the best care available with treatment tailored to your specific needs. Contact your nearest location today to learn more or schedule an appointment.