Navigating diagnosis and treatment for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) can be overwhelming, but a helpful first step is to feel confident in the care team that is put in place to support you. It can be helpful to gain a greater understanding of each team member’s role so that you know which specialist to turn to in each situation that may arise, and check in with yourself when you feel like you need extra support. Oftentimes, there’s another professional who is trained to address that specific need. “I tell people when they’re beginning this battle to put their army together,” said Annette, a mother and grandmother who has been living with SCLC for close to three years.
A care team goes beyond your primary care doctor and oncology specialists. It will include many different types of healthcare professionals and trained specialists who will help you with things like medical concerns, emotional support, eating and nutrition, and managing insurance. Your team will include an oncologist, radiologist, special nurses trained in cancer care and other experts such as a registered dietitian, patient navigator, social worker and – most importantly – your family and loved ones.
But always remember, you are at the center of this team.
The short answer is that there will be many people who make up your care team. “When I first was diagnosed, I had a pulmonologist, a cardiologist, my oncologist, primary care doctor, and my regular OB/GYN,” said Montessa, who has lived with SCLC since 2006. “Everybody was in the loop about what was going on with my lung cancer.”
Most likely you found out that you have SCLC from a specialist or surgeon in the hospital. You will then be referred to an oncologist who will be the ‘captain’ of your medical team and connect you to specialists based on the type of care you may need along the way. Remember that you should never be afraid to ask for further details on the members of your healthcare team, and what role they are playing. It’s important that trusted friends and family members are also in your corner during this experience, in addition to specialists who can help you navigate your care needs. This extended support system comes together with the common goal of supporting your physical and emotional well-being.
There will be a series of doctors and specialists who are involved in your care. A few may include:
In addition to these specialists, other healthcare professionals may play an important role in your care team, including:
Even though having a team of trusted healthcare professionals is essential, don’t forget how important it is to have those who know you best by your side too. “I use my family a lot for support because they know when something’s not right,” said Kim. “And they’ll tell me, ‘Hey, I noticed this is different with you. Are you okay? Is there something that we can do for you? Do you need to go see another doctor?’ It is helpful to rely on people that are the closest to you, as they may notice things that you don’t.”
Just as important is making sure your teammates are up to the task to keep you going during the tougher stretches. “When you are pulling together a team, have people around you that are positive and can keep you lifted up,” Annette shared. “Try to have someone with you that wants to be there visiting with you, helping you through it.”
Annette knows it’s not easy to take that first step to bringing your team together. “Asking for help is the hardest thing for some people. And you really do need to ask for help.”
This information is for educational purposes only and should not take the place of talking to your doctor or a healthcare professional. The content included on this page does not constitute medical advice and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. Please be sure to always consult with a physician or medical professional for questions about your medical condition.