My husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer recently and is facing radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. We’re seeing a specialist soon that will hopefully explain all of this to us. I have no experience with this type of cancer and he has just completely shut down emotionally so I’m hoping to gather a list of important questions and things to ask about to take to the appointment with us.
What should I ask? What tests should i push them to do? Any info at all would be helpful.
I want to be a supportive and informed advocate for him as he’s not dealing well and needs help.
I am sorry to hear of your husband's diagnosis. I am guessing that he is quite young if he has been diagnosed with testicular cancer. You are both in for a long ride if he needs to have all the treatment you have listed. I am going to answer your question in two parts - one about being a carer, and the other about information. You might also want to contact the Cancer Council Helpline for some general advice and assistance, and if necessary, for referral for financial advice.
First of all, as a carer, you have a hard hard role. However, I would be careful about "pushing" anyone to do anything. Your husband's reaction is completely normal. When you are diagnosed with cancer you need time to process it, and it can be a huge assault on everything you believed about yourself and the world. Your husband may not want someone else stepping in without his say so, or asking questions he doesn't want to know the answer to just yet. On the other hand, he may want you to take it all over for him - I don't know you so I don't know. If you can, try to negotiate with him about this (maybe you already have). At times you might feel you are particularly helpless but you need to be guided by your husband as to what he wants. Being there for him might not seem enough, but believe me, it is everything.
OK, secondly, taking a list of questions and making notes is a great idea because it is likely that neither of you will take in everything the health care professionals say to you. Processing all the information will take time.
As far as questions go - and subject to what I said above - I would first want to know whether any tests have been done or will be done to see if the cancer has gone anywhere else i.e. what stage is it? I would also ask things like what sort of treatment will he have? What chemotherapy drugs will he have? In what order will he have treatment? How long will each type of treatment take? What sort of side effects can he expect? (if he works) What happens about work - will he need to take time off? How long? (The Cancer Council has information about work and cancer, which you might find helpful).
Also, I don't know if you have children, or want them, but cancer treatment can often affect fertility, so you might want to ask about that as well.
Learning about cancer is like slowly unpeeling an onion - as you go along you peel layer after layer off finding things you want more information about.
Good luck with all of this, and take care of yourself along the way. Do not be afraid to ask for help for either or both of you e.g. from a psychooncologist or someone like that if they are available to you.
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