What to Expect as You Begin Treatment
You have begun the fight to kick cancer’s butt! No one said it would be easy but the good news is that ALK+ lung cancer is a high priority in the medical community. There are a ton of resources and support available to you.
You’ve probably already received a lot of information from your Care Team. You may be feeling overwhelmed, but relax because there's help available for you.
Goals of Your Treatment
Now that you have started therapy, the goal is to shrink your tumor(s) and prevent ALK+ lung cancer from progressing—this means keeping it from growing and spreading to other parts of the body. If you’ve started with chemotherapy, it aims to kill cancer cells by stopping them from continuing to rapidly divide within the body. If you’ve started with a targeted medicine, it focuses on stopping the action of molecules that help cancer cells grow. Your oncologist will monitor your health along the way with scans and appropriate lab tests. If tumors progress while on a given therapy, you and your Care Team will meet and discuss the next step in your treatment plan, which could involve adjusting your therapy.
As you know, there is currently no cure for ALK+ lung cancer and
progression is not uncommon. We know the thought of progression is scary,
but you need to know there are other treatment options if your first
treatment fails you. Over the past decade, amazing advancements have been
made in ALK-targeted therapy.
All treatments work differently for every person. Some people do well with a particular medication, and may stay on it for a long time, while others may not respond at all. Some may not be able to take a particular medication due to tolerance issues. This is all normal with ALK+ lung cancer but the good news is there are multiple options for you and your HCPs to discuss and consider.
Your healthcare team may talk with you about enrolling in a clinical trial. You should talk with your treating healthcare provider about whether or not this is an option for you and the risks associated with participating in clinical trials.
To make things easier for you, we have provided the link to Clinicaltrials.gov, a global database of clinical studies underway.
Take Your Meds As Prescribed!
If you are on an oral option of your medication—you need to take your meds exactly as your oncologist has prescribed them, which also means taking the exact number of pills on the appropriate schedule. And, don’t skip doses. The best way for your treatment to work is for you to take your meds consistently and exactly as your oncologist has prescribed. If you are getting IV infusions, please be sure to keep your appointments. If transportation is an issue, you can ask your Care Team about options that may be available in your community. Your Care Team may also be able to help with options if you have trouble accessing or paying for your medications. As always, make sure to talk with your doctor about any side effects you may have with treatment.
Set an alert on your phone, buy a pill box, send automatic reminders—do whatever it takes to make you remember your medication and/or appointments. Ask your Care Partner(s) to send you gentle reminders as well.
Maintaining Control of Your Life
It’s still your life and you are in charge. While cancer requires changes in how you live your life, you may still keep up with your daily routines if you feel well enough. Be aware of any changes in your health, and always check with your Care Team and follow their recommendations.
Talk with your doctor about:
- Spending time with family and friends
- Going to work
- Taking part in activities and hobbies
- Going on trips and travel
And Something for
Your Care Partners…
You can lean on your support system—don’t feel like you are a burden.
Share this with your Care Partner so he or she can learn how to provide the support you need and deserve.