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FAQ on Cancer

Q: I frequently visit hospital with my friend who is been treated for cancer. Are there any chances of me to get cancer due to this?
A: No, there are no chances of you to get cancer just because you visit hospital with the patient. There are various harmful radiations, through which a patient has to undergo during the treatment of chemotherapy, but its harmful effects will only be experienced by the patient. For the precaution hospital authorities do not allow children to visit hospitals because they are more prone to get infected. Though strictly putting, cancer is not contagious at all.

Q: I am concerned for my friend who is undergoing chemotherapy and has lost his hair. Is hair loss from chemotherapy temporary?
A: Yes, hair loss from chemotherapy is temporary and will grow back once the therapy sessions are over. Usually hair grows back after the completion of the therapy but in some cases hair can grow during the course of therapy. Patients are even concerned about the texture of the new hair, in maximum cases hair texture is different from that of the earlier one for the first year and then gradually it goes back to how it was before the patient took chemotherapy.

Q: Why are we all so frightened of cancer?
A: Cancer today is considered to be a dangerous disease but this is just because probably all other major health threats have faded somewhere and no other disease is left to scare. Many years ago people were afraid of smallpox and cholera then when it was curable they were scared by tuberculosis and syphilis. Few years later it was AIDS and now it is cancer.  Few years later there will be some other disease which will scare people. But the fact remains the same that cancer has not changed much, but the perception of the masses has.

Q: Is cancer contagious while sharing meals?
A: No, cancer is not contagious and a healthy person does not catch it just mere by sharing meal with the person who has it. There is no evidence till date which can prove that by close contact such as touching, sharing meals, sex or breathing the same air can spread cancer from one person to another. It is proved that cancer cells are unable to live in the body of a healthy person. A healthy person’s immune system will recognize the cancer cell and will immediately destroy them. Hence by physically closed activities like sharing meals or kiss will not spread the cancer but will spread love and affection which is prime requirement of the cancer patient.

Q: Can stress or attitude of a person cause cancer?
A: No, stress and attitude of a person is not responsible of causing cancer to him/her. In fact, this idea that says bad attitude or cancer “personality” contributes to the cause of cancer may be just a part of the ancient human habit of blaming the patient for the disease. Genes and environmental factors are responsible for causing cancer, personal attributes of a person has no link towards the disease.

Q: Can cancer be prevented?
A: There are established preventive methods which would help to reduce the incidence of cancer dramatically. They include refraining from smoking, sensible sexual behavior, avoiding sun damage, eating a high-fiber and low-fat diet, having regular Pap tests done. We could probably prevent more if we knew more about it, either its cause or the effects, so research is very critical and recommended in this field. The more you are aware about the cancer the more you get prevented and help your loved ones to get prevented as well.

Q: Can physical exercise and yoga cure cancer?
A: Doing exercise and yoga helps the person to stay fit and healthy. However there are different physiologies and each person’s response to such physical activities are different and individualistic. Researches indicates that while regular physical activities like yoga and exercise do not cure cancer but this will help you to recover faster from the disease. It will help to reduce the side effects caused by the cancer treatments and it’s after effects. It is believed by the doctors that the cancer patients who do physical activities regularly like yoga and exercise are more likely to begin functioning normally earlier as compared to the patients who stays on complete bed rest.

Q: My friend who is been treated for cancer asks for change in her diet. Can a change in diet alter the course of cancer?
A: There are many cancer centers which are currently involved in finding out whether a certain diet can alter the course of cancer, at least in some selected early cases. But there is no evidence as far as now; however, that diet supplements, vitamins, minerals, or special diets actually change the course of a cancer once it has developed.

Q: How can I support my loved one with cancer?
A: There is no pain bigger than when you see your loved one in pain. But rather than sympathizing and feeling bad about it you can actually help and support your loved one to face and then to recover cancer bravely. The most important thing is to listen and understand the pain both physically and emotionally. You have to make your loved one simply feel that you are there for them and whenever they are in need. Many times you will feel like advising them but make sure to do not do it unless they ask for it. Many times people who are diagnosed with cancer also suffer from overload of the information and precautions. It often gets overwhelming but you may also observe irritation and withdrawal symptom at the same time. If you want truly support them, do it practical way like accompanying them to their hospital visits and for the treatments.

Q: What do I need to know primarily as a caregiver?
A: You must realize that cancer is a disease that can affect anybody in the family or for that matter anybody in the world. There are many types of cancer and it can affect any part or organ in the body and it is not an exclusive disease that affects only a specific sect of people. If somebody in your family is diagnosed with cancer then the entire family is affected from a psychological and emotional perspective. If you’re taking care of the cancer patient in addition to the expert care that he or she is receiving, then you must be mentally prepared to put up with the psychological, emotional, spiritual and social facets of the disease. You must be ready to take on the challenges in addition to the challenges faced by the patient.

Q: As a primary caregiver, what are the issues that I’ll most commonly face?
A:  Research and surveys on the impact that a caregiver has to endure, have overwhelmingly pointed to the fact family members undergo almost the same level of emotional distress that a patient does. Therefore, how you control your emotions and cope with the everyday stress also has a bearing on the patient.  There’s a give-and-take effect at work.

What feelings or emotions will I have to cope with more often?
A: You might be torn apart by feelings of helplessness, worry and uncertainty in the course of taking care of the cancer payment. Since you’re not in touch with healthcare professionals and the patient does not always have access to specialty care, you might not always feel very confident of the procedures or steps you’re following. You have to rely on information that you came across on the Internet or related to you when you visited the specialist some time back. When you take over the care of the patient after he or she is discharged from the hospice or from the intensive care center, you might be inundated with feelings of powerlessness.

Q:What to do in case of an emergency?
A: You should get in touch with the emergency department of a medical center offering specialized services if-the patient has been running a temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or more for more than a hour; if the fever is accompanied by heavy perspiration or sweat; there is swelling, drainage, soreness, or redness on the skin or in the genital or rectal area; occurrence of pain in a new area or increasing pain in areas where it was already paining; headaches or sinus pain; persistent coughs and shortness of breath; neck stiffness; sore throats ; has painful urination

Q: What if I cannot comprehend certain terms in the medical records, prescriptions or instructions on medications?
A:  You should always keep the names, addresses and contact numbers of three to four specialists handy. Keeping in regular touch with more than one specialist will stand you in good stead if you’re unable to establish contact with a particular physician. Being on good terms with a few medics also means that you can call them whenever you need help on anything like understanding a particular term in a prescription or the dosage instructions on medications.

Q: What hygienic rules should I follow?
A: Some forms of cancer make the immune system completely impotent. Patients with malignant forms of cancer are vulnerable to pick up diseases that further debilitate their immune systems. Therefore you should be very careful in taking care as a caregiver. You should take certain protective and preventive measures not only to alleviate the progression of the disease but also to protect yourself from getting infected. Take immunizations and vaccines for contagious diseases and maintain proper hygiene while taking food and water.