Making a plan for what’s next can help you be prepared and confident about your journey with lung cancer. Here are some steps that can help you get started.
Step 1: Learn more about your stage 3 lung cancer
Take some time to learn as much as you can about your type and stage of lung cancer. Having a clear understanding of what is happening in your body can provide you with the knowledge you and your care team need to manage your lung cancer journey.
When lung cancer is “stage 3,” that means cancer has been found in the lungs and lymph nodes in the middle of the chest. If you’re researching and reading about it online, you may see it spelled out as “stage III.”
Step 2: Work with your doctor to create a treatment plan
Write down any questions, expectations, or aspirations to share with your healthcare team. Consider how your finances may be affected and if you’re going to continue to work.
Together, you and your care team can set realistic goals of what you’d like to achieve through treatment. This can help you and your team understand your options and select the appropriate treatment plan for you.
Step 3: Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If you have questions or concerns about your treatment, talk to your doctors, nurses, and healthcare team. Partnering closely with your healthcare team can help you understand your treatment plan and feel more comfortable opening up about what’s on your mind.
These questions can help you start a discussion with your healthcare team and help you manage your stage 3 lung cancer:
- If I am able to have surgery, what are my next steps?
- What if my cancer cannot be removed by surgery?
- What will happen after I receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy alone?
- What should I do if I’m experiencing side effects?
- What happens after chemoradiation therapy (CRT)?
- If treatment works for me, is there a way to help prevent my lung cancer from spreading or becoming metastatic?
- Are there any other healthcare professionals or specialists I should add to my healthcare team?
- In addition to medication, what can I do to help keep my lungs as healthy as possible?
Step 4: Following the treatment plan
Once you have received all your test results, and you and your doctor have chosen the right treatment plan for you, make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions and ask any questions you may have about side effects and next steps.
One way to make sure you stick to your treatment plan is to create a support team out of your friends and family. They want to help, so it's OK to ask. Reaching out for assistance with cooking, cleaning and running errands may help you focus on reaching your goals.
Step 5: Listen to your body
Listening to your body and being aware of side effects can make you feel more confident about your treatment. Tell your doctor right away about any changes you notice in your health. Be on the lookout for possible symptoms of cancer progression, which may include:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Continuous coughing, including coughing up blood
- Difficulty or pain in swallowing
- Swelling of the neck and face
- High-pitched wheezing when taking a breath
The approach you and your doctor have decided on may have to change depending on your cancer and how it is responding to treatment. That’s why it is important to work closely with your doctor to know what your next steps will be if your cancer changes.
Step 6: Be sure to fit in some time for self-care
Whether you’re still going through treatment or have recently finished, self-care is important. Research has shown that doing exercise during cancer treatment can reduce symptoms, relieve stress, boost self-esteem, and improve quality of life.
Remember to always talk to your healthcare team before making any changes to your exercise or diet plan. Read the brochure to find out more.
Fitting in some low-impact exercise
Even if you feel tired, low-impact exercise may help you feel a little better. To start:
- Try going for a 10-minute walk in your neighborhood
- Consider having someone walk with you when you’re starting out, as you may get tired
- Try lifting light weights. You can use a can of soup or a hardcover book. Or if you have light dumbbells (2 or 3 pounds), consider using them
Self-care through nutrition
You may find it’s sometimes difficult to meet your nutritional goals since cancer can affect your sense of taste, smell, appetite, and the ability to absorb nutrients from food.
A smoothie can provide nutrition when you may be having a hard time swallowing. Try an Apricot-Orange Smoothie, a Yogurt Protein Smoothie, or a Green Tea Smoothie. It might also be helpful to work with a nutritionist before making any changes to your diet.
Taking time to relax
Treatment may take a lot out of you. Some days you may not have a lot of energy. Take some time to relax by putting on a movie or your favorite TV show or try reading a book or magazine.