Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Taking Charge of Your Health - One Step at A Time

For the past few hours I've been on a wild goose chase.

The first was for an article I was sure I saw last week on cancer and depression. Or did I dream that? I've been searching for this since lunchtime. In the process I did discover, sadly enough, that a diagnosis of prostate cancer roughly doubles a man's risk of suicide or death from a heart attack, according to a team and Harvard and Brigham & Young Women's Hospital in Boston from data of 340,000 patients diagnosed between l979 and 2004.

What's difficult with this news is what we know for fact: prostate cancer, like many forms of cancer, can be brought into remission. This also doubly points up the he important of solid, supportive information for both newly diagnosed men and women. There is always hope.

But people who are depressed don't feel that way. Depressed thinking goes like this: "Hope is for Hallmark cards," in other words, hope is not for me. So listen to your thoughts.  Depression, like cancer, can be deadly. And with both illnesses, there are steps in survivorship.  Once you accept the illness, and the 'to do's' for dealing with it, a well-lived live, one that is rich in relationships and depth is possible.

Another news item about antidepressant medication came up this week, too.  Antidepressant medications, as Marie O'Connor (@jbbc/Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer) said so accurately in the post below, are not  failsafe for each kind of depression.  They also can have unexpected consequences.   According to Canadian research published yesterday, the antidepressant medication Paxil interferes with the efficient breakdown of the anti-cancer drug Tamoxifen, thus rendering it ineffective and a potentially fatal drug interaction.

The take away?  Make sure you report each and every medication to your oncologist.  Everything you are currently taking including aspirin, Tylenol (acetaminophen), Motrin (ibuprofen), ALL vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter medications.  Today an oncologist on Twitter mused that more than a third of his patients could not report what medications they take.  Don't be that person.

Take care and take charge of your health, one step at a time.   As always, more to come!


P.S. If I haven't mentioned this already I'm getting ready to inhabit WordPress in the next month or so. There's not enough room on this platform for all the things I want to do!  Bear with me!


Dianne Duffy said...

I'll try to make a long story short. Last year after I finished Chemo for breast cancer, I had a psychotic reaction to the drug Arimidex (similar to Tamoxifen). It came in the form of depression and I'm sure the way my insurance company had been treating me didn't help. So as they loaded me up in the ambulance to take me to the nut-house, they asked what medicines I was taking. I was able to pull my list out of my purse. I had been keeping it there since one of the various consults I had required it. It turns out that THREE of the medicines listed could have possible depression reactions.

Because I had that card, the responsibility was on them to see the adverse effects. Unfortunately, they missed it, but when we started legal proceedings it was clear that they were at fault and the insurance company settled quickly.

The moral of the story: Every chemo patient should list ALL medications (even OTC and Vitamins) and carry it with you at all times.

Jody said...

Wow, Dianne.
I'm so glad that you had a copy of your medications with you and that the episode was safely resolved. I also hope that both your insurance company and health care providers have cleaned up their act.

The moral of the story is loud and clear, not only for chemo in my mind's eye, but at ALL times. I carry a card w/precrips with me, for example, every time I cycle. What if I'm knocked out? At least the medication history is there.

In fact, I came across something else the other day as well in picking up some cold medicine. It contained tylenol, so I had to delay taking it since I had already taken some tylenol for aches and fever. Tylenol, if taken at rates other than directed, is toxic for the liver.

Thanks for writing! Come back and stay well!

Debbie said...

Great post Jody and very eye opening and informative. Also the comment by Diane is very eye-opening. I have been meaning to write up a health history form including current medications for a while now but haven't done it yet. You have given me the push I needed! Thanks! xx