Wish I Knew What I Know Now

The BUCK Cancer Foundation wants to ensure we are providing information that is useful to both the cancer patient and caregiver. Each month, the BUCK Cancer Foundation will present a series called “Wish I Knew What I Know Now,” which will highlight personal accounts of folks dealing with cancer.  This month, the President of the BUCK Cancer Foundation, Lori Nonnemaker, will share what she has learned through her brother’s two year battle with cancer.

From Lori: “When Buck and I started on this two-year journey, Buck did what most other cancer patients do: He listened to his oncologist and whatever treatment was recommended, he took it. We never realized that there were treatments available—other than his prescribed cancer treatments--that might have provided him with greater comfort and helped strengthen his immune system. His medical professionals did not recommend natural and holistic treatments. (I’ve heard that most do not.) I wish we knew then that we had to be proactive about understanding the complementary treatments that exist and I wish we had asked his doctor about them.  When we brought up natural or holistic treatments to Buck’s oncologist, we had an open and healthy discussion on those options, but these discussions would not have occurred if we did not approach the topic with his doctor. So our FIRST LESSON learned was to BE PROACTIVE & ASK!!

When Buck started chemo, he almost immediately lost 10 pounds, which he never gained back, and continued to lose weight as he went through treatment. If we would have been able to keep his weight at a healthier level while he was going through conventional treatment:

  • Buck’s body might have been better able to handle medical procedures which requires 12 + hours of fasting

  • His immune system might have been stronger and able to help fight off the infections that often occur in cancer patients

But a cancer patient also needs one or two main caregivers who are with him or her every day to ensure he or she is eating and exercising to keep their body strong. Unless the cancer patient is an avid health nut, it’s easy for him or her to give in to the side effects of the cancer treatment, which is fatigue and nausea or lack of appetite.  Therefore, our SECOND LESSON learned was to focus on maintaining a HEALTHY WEIGHT while going through conventional treatment.

When Buck was diagnosed with cancer, he decided to go on short term disability so he could focus on his treatment. However, he didn’t realize how much he would miss work and how going back to work would make him feel better (back to normal) but it did.  When he went to work, he could focus on a project or interact with his co-workers and forget for a little while that he had cancer. Buck felt like he was a productive member of the team and was adding value, which was very important to him.  So the THIRD LESSON learned was to ensure that a cancer patient can STAY PRODUCTIVE (it is some of the best medicine!).

If Buck and I would have known these few items, Buck might have been in a better condition to handle his conventional treatment, which might have provided him with greater comfort and could have potentially extended his life. I hope these lessons learned help those of you who are beginning your journey today.”