ACF’s mission is to help inform the general public of the significant impact comparative oncology has on development of cancer knowledge and treatment for pets and people.
ACF is also here to empower veterinary patients’ families to seek out answers to find the best treatment options by providing resources and information to those seeking to make informed medical decisions.
As overwhelming and unexpected as a cancer diagnosis is, caregivers need to act as quickly as possible to put an action plan into place. Treatment should begin as quickly as possible. That can be particularly difficult currently as veterinary resources have been stretched to the maximum during the COVID pandemic and caregivers often have to wait for consultations, so do your best within those very real constraints.
Make every effort to understand the diagnosis. Ask about the stage of cancer and if applicable, the grade as well.
Inquire if blood and tumor genetic sequencing is available.
Seek at least two expert opinions, if possible, with one coming from a large academic institution to help identify additional therapy programs and clinical trials in which you might participate.
Assemble a healthcare team focused on overall health with your oncologist as one member caring for your pet. Work to keep all providers integrated and informed.
Contact your insurance provider, if available, to understand your policy including what is covered and what will be out-of-pocket obligations. If you are entitled to one, ask for a case manager to help optimize your benefits and to navigate your policy.
If you don’t have health insurance, ask about care credit agencies, check with not-for-profits that provide financial assistance, and ask your provider what options might be available in-house to help with expenses.
Create a written organizer with questions, appointments, test results and medical provider contact numbers. Also save these in your cell phone for easy reference.
Always know and save the numbers to call after-hours, on weekends and on holidays.
Bring a supporter to accompany you to appointments to help clear up any confusion about plans of action.
Delegate responsibilities to others, accept help, so you don’t become overwhelmed, keeping in mind that daily activities and routines can contribute to a feeling of control and better health.
Seek approval from your medical team for nutrition support, proper exercise routines during and after treatment and inquire about any complimentary therapy you might be considering. Monitor pain levels and provide feedback to your healthcare team and do educate others to know those signs, too.
Ask about palliative care because success of treatment depends upon proper symptom management, so you and your provider should address quality of life as part of an overall treatment plan. Don’t silently worry! As in advance about addressing your concerns.
Counselors, social workers and support groups exist to support you, offering the resources and techniques to maintain your mental well-being. They can be incorporated into your treatment plan and offer guidance before, during and after treatment.