As we are once again entering Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we often forget that “awareness” encompasses so many more things than diagnosis and treatments for cancer patients. This was brought clearly to my attention, once again, when I found an article titled “MD Anderson’s hurricane checklist for breast cancer patients” shared on chron.com for Houston residents in my daily news feeds.
“Breast Cancer Awareness is not just a one-month initiative but rather something that is needed all year long.”Barbara Jacoby
I have never even given this topic a second thought. But as we have already seen the devastation that hurricanes have wreaked on the US and many other countries so early in what is considered to be “hurricane season”, such guidance is so important for all cancer patients who will be affected by heavy rains and flooding and other disasters that are occurring like the wildfires in California.
In addition to gathering in extra supplies, in this time of COVID-19, people are reminded to not wait until the last minute when social distancing and extra care become more difficult in crowded stores. And reminders are given to be sure to include extra gloves and masks in case you are evacuated to a crowded shelter.
Specific guidance also includes the following quoted part of the article about planning ahead:
“Plan ahead and be sure to maintain at least a two-week supply of any current medications. Make a list of all your current medications and their dosages, and talk to your doctor about what to do if you have to miss a dose or treatment. In addition, prepare a dedicated cooler with ice packs or frozen water bottles for medications that need to be kept refrigerated. Research the location of the nearest emergency room and how to get there. Call your insurance company in advance to be sure which ones are covered by your policy. Remember to keep your car’s gas tank full, too, in case you need to seek medical attention or quickly evacuate.”
Another important piece of this article addresses organizing your medical information in one place:
“It’s possible you won’t immediately be able to travel to your regular doctor’s office for care. In the event you must visit a doctor who’s not familiar with your cancer history or treatment, organize and prepare extra copies of your care information organized in one place. This information should include your diagnosis, including the type and stage of your cancer, the type of treatment you’re currently receiving and the dosage, as well as when you started your current treatment and any treatments you had previously. In addition, be sure to include a list of any other medications you’re on, including any supplements, information about allergies and immunizations and a copy of your most recent lab work.”
“Lab results are especially important,” Von-Maszewski said.
“Even if your doctor provides online records, it’s also a good idea to have hard copies of your medical records in a folder or binder, in case there’s a power outage or you’re unable to charge your phone or computer.”
It is my hope that if you are a cancer patient who is currently in treatment, have a compromised immune system, or are a caregiver or friend of a cancer patient who may have to deal with any sort of catastrophe, both now and in the future, that you will read and share the information in the article shared here. Breast Cancer Awareness is not just a one-month initiative but rather something that is needed all year long. The more knowledge and information that we have to support this community, the more lives we can save and it couldn’t be easier than sharing information like this through our social media channels.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.