Deborah’s Cancer Journey: Controlling What You Can Control

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July 18, 2023

“Cancer and the diagnosis has changed my life.” – Deborah, Arizona Oncology patient

Arizona Oncology patient, Deborah, recently shared her story with the world in the hopes that others could learn from her experience and be inspired by it.

Deborah was diagnosed with advanced stage gynecological cancer. Her oncologist is Dr. Shobhana Talukdar.

“I immediately had total trust in her, and I could tell that she cared and she made me at ease. She’s such a caring person. I just am so lucky that I was led to her,” Deborah said.

“Dee faced her advanced cancer diagnosis with a lot of courage and resilience,” Dr. Talukdar said. “She accepted the necessary treatment that was offered to her, and she focused on things that she could control such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, diet, and rest. And she let us control the rest of the things she couldn’t control.”

Controlling what you can control and letting go of the rest can be a challenge for those facing cancer. It’s often a rollercoaster ride filled with ups and downs, but there are still things they can take charge of that make a difference in their journey. Healthy choices with regards to nutrition, exercise, and self-care are a part of that.

“I have to be very diligent and disciplined to make sure that I do the things to help the doctors help me,” Deborah acknowledged.

Mindset plays a role, too. It can be extremely challenging to maintain a positive attitude in the midst of a frightening diagnosis and treatments that can be hard on the body. That’s where a strong support system comes in. Deborah had her husband.

“He was my primary caregiver and he’s been just my rock. There were a lot of people out there that were my support group, and I’m very lucky in life to have them,” Deborah said.

Another thing patients can control is knowledge. They can arm themselves with information about their specific type of cancer, treatment options, and possible side effects. By staying informed, they can make educated decisions and actively participate in their own care. Deborah had a particular fear about chemotherapy side effects.

“One of the fears was that I was going to lose my hair, but I found out that Arizona Oncology had a product called a cold cap, that when you take the chemo, during the infusions and after, I would wear the cap that keeps the chemo from getting into the hair follicles. They did have that option for me and it worked,” Deborah said.

Dee went through chemotherapy and surgery after which no cancer was detected, but months later, her cancer came back. That was certainly something she couldn’t control! Deborah chose to trust her doctor and take the second-line treatment.

Dr. Talukdar noted that as part of the US Oncology Network, Arizona Oncology offers Deborah the best chance of a successful outcome because of its access to clinical trials: “At Arizona Oncology we have a wide variety of clinical trials available, and we can offer patients experimental drugs and the latest treatment through these clinical trials. For Dee, it’ll be the best place to get her treatment if her cancer has to progress or she fails the second line of treatment.”

Even though cancer patients can’t control everything, there are still important areas where they can take the reins, including choosing an oncology practice they can trust.

“The whole team here has just been wonderful and made my journey just the best it could be,” Deborah said.

You can watch Deborah’s story in the AO Experience section at