SCAN Club Issue 2 2024

It’s Cancer. Now What?

A cancer diagnosis can be difficult to deal with. Knowing what to ask and who to turn to for support can help.

Senior man speaks with his physician, who holds a clipboard and pen.

“You have cancer” are three words few people are prepared to hear.

“When I first heard the diagnosis, it was like I wasn’t there,” SCAN Health Plan member Linda S. remembers about when she learned she had gall bladder cancer. “It’s like you’re in a cloud and you can’t believe what you’re hearing. It’s just such a shock.”

Shock is one of the many emotions that can come after a cancer diagnosis. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you may find it easier to work through these emotions if you can understand what is happening in your body, what may come next and what you can do to cope.

Get to Know Your Cancer

Just as each person’s cancer treatment is different, so are the ways different people choose to deal with their cancer. You may want to be involved in every aspect of your treatment. Or, you may prefer to know only the basics about your cancer and leave the details to your care team.

Whatever you decide, be sure to turn to trusted and reliable sources for information and advice. Look to your doctors and healthcare team to help you understand your cancer and treatment. Your care team can be your go-to resource for information on the physical, emotional and financial changes to expect.

Here are six questions to consider asking your healthcare team about your cancer:

1. What kind of cancer do I have and where is it?

2. Can my cancer be treated? Cured?

3. What other tests or procedures do I need?

4. What are my treatment options? And how will they benefit me?

5. What side effects can I expect from treatment?

6. What happens if I don’t get treatment?

Find and Accept Support

Dealing with cancer is a lot, but there are people ready to help. Here are four places to look for support for your physical and emotional health now:

1. Family and friends. A cancer diagnosis affects the people who care about you, too. Friends and family often are looking for ways they can help. Let them run errands, take you to appointments, prepare meals, pitch in with household chores or take care of your pets. You may also want to have someone join you at your appointments to hear what the doctor is saying. It can be a lot to take in on your own.

2. Your care team. Open and honest communication with your care team is more essential now than ever. Always let them know about symptoms and how you’re feeling. When the people caring for you know what you’re experiencing, they can help you understand your symptoms and find ways to deal with them.

3. Cancer support groups. Find out about in-person or online cancer support groups these ways:

  • Ask your doctor
  • Check with your local chapter of the American Cancer Society
  • Look on online message boards, such as the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Survivors Network

4. Your health plan. Get familiar with all the benefits your health plan includes to support your care and healing. SCAN is a Medicare Advantage plan that offers extra benefits in many of its plans that can be especially helpful to members with cancer. Many SCAN members have access to these and other benefits that aren’t covered by regular Medicare:

If you need help with expenses beyond your healthcare coverage, ask your healthcare team about grants or other patient assistance programs that may be available to you.

  • Rides to and from health appointments
  • Acupuncture/chiropractic care for relief from and help with managing pain
  • In-home help after a hospital stay, including meal delivery
  • A personal emergency response system
  • Assistance from a care navigator for help coordinating care and finding resources
  • A phone app to record care visits
  • A 24/7 Nurse Advice Line
  • 24/7 TeleHealth visits with a medical provider from home for many urgent care needs

‘Don’t Do What I Did!’

“I probably had 22 years of problems and never said anything,” SCAN member Linda says. She admits she never saw a doctor for her symptoms or an annual exam because “I never thought anything could be seriously wrong.”

But a cancer diagnosis changed Linda’s thinking about the importance of getting regular care.

“Don’t do what I did!” she advises. “Listen to your body. If you’re having symptoms, make the call to the doctor and go get checked out.”

If you have don’t have a Medicare Advantage plan, look at the comprehensive coverage, award-winning service, and extensive network of caring physicians, offered by SCAN Health Plan.

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