Using her personal journey as a backdrop, the wife of a cancer survivor offers a guide to formulating a plan when faced with a cancer diagnosis.
When Carrothers’ fiance, Michael, discovered a lump on his groin, he was hesitant to have it checked out. But because of Carrothers’ experience as pharmacist who works in oncology, and a gut feeling, she was adamant that he do so. Michael’s first doctor diagnosed it as an infection and sent him home with antibiotics. But after five days, the swelling was no better. Fast-forward to Carrothers’ insisting on a biopsy. The dreaded diagnosis came back: non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The two kicked into planning mode and devised a strategy: They invited their families to dinner and delivered the news. There, they discussed some of their foreseen needs and enlisted the families’ aid. Carrothers details the importance of creating a “personal team” to help out with things such as food preparation, household chores and crucial emotional support. She and Michael moved up their wedding date so she could apply for medical leave at work and have more time to help him. Carrothers also advises creating the “professional team,” listing, among others, an oncologist, an oncology nurse and an oncology pharmacist, as well as a financial navigator to help determine coverage for insurance and medications. She discusses in detail the use of a surgically placed port for delivering chemo, relating Michael’s experience with it and the many possible side effects of chemo, such as thrush, changes in taste and smell, fatigue and even cognitive changes. Carrothers underscores the need to be your own advocate: “You have to trust your gut and get your doctor to listen. If your doctor is not listening to you, you have the right to fire your doctor.” The tone here strikes a perfect balance between reassuring and personal, pragmatic and practical. In addition to a list of helpful websites at book’s end, Carrothers skillfully weaves her advice and knowledge into the compelling journey she took with her courageous husband.
For those forced to navigate the frightening territory of cancer, this road map provides a reassuring, direct passage.