Greg Cantwell was 30 years old when he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a primary brain tumor. Even though Greg had the support from his family and friends, he didn't know anyone that could relate to his fight or who had conquered the same type of cancer. Since founding his non-profit, Greg's Mission, in 2012, he has helped over 1,700 patients, families and caregivers to navigate the brain tumor journey.
I had just moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota from Maui, Hawaii where I had been living from 1999 to 2004 when I received my diagnosis of a GBM. The very night I arrived I had a seizure during the night and was rushed to the hospital. Being in a new city not knowing anyone or where to go I was at the mercy of the ambulance to take me to the closest hospital. I didn't have time to be scared. I didn't know what was going on. I couldn't even answer the EMT's questions. I knew something wasn't right. That said, I was very lucky that I was brought to a hospital where the neurosurgeon and neuro-oncologist were proactive and treated me as a patient and not just as a diagnosis. This is where relationships with my medical team and the support from my family and friends really became important.
Relationships with your medical team should be built on trust and confidence. As a patient, I needed to trust the doctors that they have my best interests in mind. I also need to be confident that they will give me the best treatment options and not just the standard of care, and, most of all, the best chance for longevity. Trust works both ways. The doctors should trust you to do research on your own and come in with questions, and I sure had a lot of them. After all, it's my life, and I wanted to be sure that everything is being done that was medically possible to give me the best opportunity at long-term survival.
Once your treatment option has been chosen and agreed upon by everyone on your healthcare team (I was the number one person on my healthcare team and you should be on yours as well) then your team expands to the nurses, radiologists, and all the other medical professionals who will be playing a very important part of your treatment plan. You need to have trust and confidence in everyone that they will be administering, reading, scanning and giving you the best possible care that you deserve.
Having this trust and confidence in the medical professionals on my healthcare team eased much of the unknown about what to expect before, during, and after my treatment. I knew that I would be taken care of, and my quality of care met or exceeded my needs and expectations. My true sense of humor was able to shine through.