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Most Cancer Survivors Say Chemo Fears Unfounded
Date:4/4/2008

ustified. Just 14 percent described their side effects as "very difficult," and about a third (32 percent) had a "somewhat easy" or "very easy" experience with treatment.
  • Almost all (87 percent) of survivors said that new supportive care products made the side effects that they did experience much more manageable than they had expected.
  • Eighty-seven percent of survivors who had experienced side effects said that chemotherapy was worth going through, and 90 percent said the treatments had given them real hope for survival.
  • Anne Willis, 25, is NCCS' director of survivorship programs and a 10-year survivor of Ewing's sarcoma, a rare malignancy that attacks the bone or soft tissue. She told conference attendees that when she first knew she would be undergoing chemotherapy, she "was too scared to ask the nurses what to expect. I never had any conversations with anybody, so I was absolutely terrified."

    But, like many of those polled in the survey, Willis said she soon realized that her fears of chemotherapy were exaggerated. Her attitudes toward her health-care team changed, too. "I became much more of an active participant in my care," Willis said. "I never hesitated if I had a problem. One time I had a full-body rash that did not make me very popular, and I immediately told my doctor about it. We treated it and took care of the problem."

    Too often, patients remain mum about their fears and the side effects that they do experience. Ellerbee said she was lucky, because her training as a journalist had taught her to ask questions.

    "If you are living with cancer, talk to your doctors and other health professionals about these issues," she advised. "If you've got fears, tell them. If you have questions, ask them. Side effects -- tell them. Ask what they can do to help you."

    The NCCS strongly advises that patients also get written "Treatment Plans" from their health-care team before they b
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