And even though restrictions are easing in many parts of the country, many healthcare professionals and hospitals continue to be cautious when scheduling appointments and procedures.
But many patients are likely still experiencing symptoms and challenges that are impacting their quality of life. Patients should not neglect these challenges at any time – even now.
Good nutritional care as well as seeing healthcare professionals who focus on symptom management and supportive care improve outcomes and are critical for patients’ quality of life. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) strongly recommends:
- Symptom management and supportive care, provided early after diagnosis as well as during and after treatment
- Access to pancreatic enzymes
- Seeing a registered dietitian
Challenges that supportive care may be able to address include (but aren’t limited to):
- Digestive issues
- Anxiety, depression and other emotional concerns
- Taste and appetite changes
- Skin and nail changes
Patients’ quality of life is still important during this uncertain time.
Hospitals and healthcare providers have procedures in place that are designed to keep patients safe if they need to go in for an appointment or treatment. Plus, many healthcare professionals even have telemedicine options right now. This means that you may not have to visit your healthcare provider in person for a consultation.
PanCAN’s Patient Services can give patients and their families free, in-depth resources – including popular booklets – on symptom and side effect management as well as diet and nutrition. They can also provide a list of dietitians and other pancreatic cancer specialists.
It is also important to have emotional support and to stay connected during these times. PanCAN’s Patient Services can give you a list of support groups or volunteers with shared experiences to connect with one-on-one. Professional counseling may also be helpful.
And self-advocacy – which is always important for pancreatic cancer patients – is especially critical during this time. Restrictions and guidelines are changing often. It’s important to communicate with your healthcare team often and ask for support where you need it.