Cancer. The illness is devastating. It affects so many people every day. Millions of dollars are invested daily on research. Even more is spent on treating people with the condition. It has a huge impact on society but even more impact on anyone given the diagnosis. The digital health revolution brings huge amounts of hope in the medical profession that a breakthrough can be found to deal with cancer. Much research is going on that is beyond the scope of this blog but take it from me, with more powerful computers, a better understanding of genetics and access to more data than ever before we are understanding the condition better and are gaining insights into how to prevent, diagnose and treat the problem.
How can technology help?
If given a diagnosis of cancer, it is life changing. It affects everyone around you. It raises questions: why me, why now, what will happen to me? As with all things, if we learn about the problem, we can understand it better. The cancer council Australia have a great website that provides a comprehensive guide to all forms of cancer. Read it and learn. Understanding what you are dealing with will allow you to make the best decisions for you and your family.
Track your symptoms. Every niggle or pain will raise anxiety. Is it the cancer or something else? I used to work in a famous cancer hospital. I, then and now, always say to people, if you have any questions, write them down. Doctors are busy and when you go to see them, you have a small window to discuss issues that may or may not be a problem. The number of times I have been told by patients that they have had numerous questions but their mind has gone blank. It is a wasted opportunity and take it from me both patient and doctor do not want to miss a problem because it was not reported. This is why we have highlighted the CancerAid app. It puts everything in one place so you can track your symptoms and treatment as well as find information that may be useful.
A diagnosis of cancer is undoubtedly going to affect your mood. That is the reality of the situation. If the condition is progressive, you want to ensure that the time you have left is enjoyable. Identifying that your mood could be a problem and doing something about it is important. Seeing a psychologist has now become easy and is accessible online. You can see someone where and when you need to in the comfort of your own surroundings. Mental health support can be given by your chosen practitioner regularly to help you through the challenges of suffering from cancer. Online psychologists such as Cyberclinic or Lysn offer a variety of psychologists that can be accessed via your phone. Have a look and see if one of their psychologists connects with you.
Part of the strategy to improve your mental health is exercise and meditation. Now depending on the source of the cancer, exercise may be hard to commit to, but if you can do it, it will help with you mental and physical health. If not maximising meditation is key. Mindfulness is a technique that helps you stay in the present with meditative techniques. If you focus on the past and why you have been diagnosed with cancer, you can become depressed. If you worry about the future and what effect the cancer may have on you, you become anxious, so mediation teaches you to live in the here and now. Find a course online, get an app or get some technology that can help (see Muse as an example). In addition ancient arts such as Yoga or Tai Chi focus on breathing and relaxation which all benefit mental health as well as a whole host of other health issues.
Technology is making huge inroads into finding an effective treatment into the condition. Your oncologist will be aware of this and will be able to advise if good quality research is proving the effectiveness of any new intervention. On a consumer level there are numerous options that can help you through the journey that comes your way when diagnosed with cancer. Have a look at what options are available on our website that are simple to use and will certainly do you no harm to try. Motivate yourself to overcome the challenges that have come your way and allow HealthAide to show you options that will allow you to own your condition.
Blog post written by Dr Khurram Akhter.
Khurram is an experienced primary care physician and a thought leader
in the field of digital health.
Disclaimer: This text does not serve as medical advice and if you have any questions, seek advice from your doctor.