You may have just learned that you have cancer or you may have had a recurrence of a disease that you had hoped was gone, in remission, or cured. In the process of learning about your current situation you are told that the disease is “widespread,” “metastatic,” or “advanced.”
There could be a range of options presented regarding treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy, targeted treatments, radiation therapy, or even a new clinical trial. You might be told that the disease could be put back into remission or stabilized, which might feel reassuring. You might be told that the prognosis does not look good, but there are still options for you. There are a whole host of possibilities that can occur with advanced cancer. What we know is that this is often a challenging time for patients, family members, and friends. It is fraught with uncertainty and unknowns and often can turn your life on its side leaving you feeling overwhelmed, lost about what to do and where to turn for guidance or support, and wondering what are the next steps.
You may need information about what to expect from your diagnosis and potential treatments and how to manage side effects that can impact your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. You may have questions about how to share this news with people in your life—your family, co-workers, and friends – and how to get the support you need during this difficult time as well as making sure your loved ones have the support that they need to be there for you. There may be challenges with navigating insurance or disability concerns or worries about what choices and actions need to be put in place. You may also be interested in participating in your own treatment and wanting to make sure you are making good nutritional choices as you prepare for the journey ahead. You may wish to connect with a community of others who are also finding their way through cancer through support groups and lectures that can educate and assist. You may have concerns about advanced care planning, including advance care directives and what choices are available to you.
You may need a place to go where all your anxieties and concerns, spoken and unspoken, will be understood by a team of psychosocial oncology professionals who will hear you and assist you to develop the tools you need for the road ahead.
At the Simms/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, we can provide all of these resources for you and your loved ones as you embark in this journey with advanced cancer here at UCLA.
Some of the resources that may be particularly helpful include:
- Support groups for individuals with metastatic disease called Living Beyond Limits
- Help with Nutrition and Supplements by an educated Integrative Oncology Specialist
- Psychiatry to address anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties or energy needs
- Information about Advanced Care Planning