Day 4: Get a Primary Care Provider (PCP); you NEED one.
*Hopefully, you have requested your Survivorship Care Plan that documents your cancer diagnosis and your treatment history. Once you have that in your hot little hands, call to make an appointment for a comprehensive history and physical exam with a PCP.
Important: Hand your Survivorship Care Plan to your PCP [and] go through it with him/her.
We, survivors, have a tendency to feel safe and secure under the umbrella of our oncologists; however, our oncologists have a tendency to focus solely on our cancer at the expense of our primary healthcare needs as we age.
I consider my PCP the head coach of my healthcare team [and] we utilize our special teams [if/when] we need to do so. Forgive the football analogy, but I LOVE football (Gator Nation; Steeler Nation).
I have not seen an oncologist in 35 years which was 2 years after I was given my last dose of chemotherapy. I grew up as [a well child, a well teenager, a well young adult, a well individual], and I believe, I am ALL the better for it as I never viewed myself as chronically ill. Yes, I have some unique considerations, but who doesn’t?!
I find myself reluctant to step out from under my PCP’s care unless it is absolutely necessary which to be quite candid it usually isn’t. I will admit to you that my internist is second to none. She knows me. She knows my history. She respects that I know my body. She not only cares for me, but she also cares about me.
She approaches my care with an attitude of humility and grace that allows her to know the limits of her expertise [and] she does not hesitate to call on our special teams.
She is my advocate [and] we are truly partners with regard to my health and wellbeing.
Like I said, she is second to none.
Survivors, we need PCP’s who are focused on prevention with a healthy consideration of the potential late effects we are at risk for across our lives.
Again, you want a PCP who will partner with you on the screening for late effects; a PCP who will be responsible without being hypervigilent; a PCP who cares for you [and] about you. A PCP who knows the limits of his/her expertise. A PCP who is invested in your wellness.
My internist accepted me as a patient [and] I am a [hot-little-childhood- cancer-surviving-heart-transplant-receiving-at-risk-for-anything-you-can-name-or-think-of] kind of mess.
I, however, refuse to allow anyone to take a pin to my balloon. I live a life-full [and] I am hope-full with a vision for my future. I intend to watch my grandchildren grow up: BOOM!
It is possible to find such doctors and nurse practitioners; they are out there though it may take some time in interviewing.
Unless you puke, faint, or die: Keep Going (after you rehydrate, mind you;)