Finding out you have cancer or immunosuppression can be a challenging time. However, this blog explains how wearing a medical bracelet can make your life easier and how you can communicate your condition to other people better.
What is Cancer?
Cancer is caused when cells begin to change in an unusual and uncontrolled way. These changes lead the cells to multiply, which can cause a growth known as a tumour.
According to Cancer Research UK, there are more than 200 different types of cancer. This includes 5 main groups: Carcinomas, Lymphomas, Leukaemia's, Brain tumours and Sarcomas.
Read more about the different types of cancer.
Cancer can sometimes spread to other parts of the body, and treatments can have an effect on blood circulation, as well as the immune system and hormone system. Cancer Research UK states that 1 in 2 people in the UK will have cancer during their lifetime, therefore it is important to know that you are not alone in your experiences of this condition.
What is Immunosuppression?
If you have Immunosuppression, this means that your immune system is weakened, and your body will find it hard to fight off infections or illnesses.
Immunosuppression can be caused by medical conditions such as diabetes or malnutrition, as well as some genetic disorders. However, the Fox Chase Cancer Centre describes how immunosuppression can also be caused by some forms of treatment for cancer. If you are undergoing treatment such as radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery, this can reduce your body’s ability to fight against infections.
Blogger Cory Lee offers some advice for how you can stay healthy despite having a suppressed immune system. It is important to make sure you still spend time outdoors and exercise regularly, and Cory recommends taking some vitamins or supplements to help to boost your immune system.
Cory has also written about the effects which stress can have on our immune system. If you have immunosuppression, finding ways to manage stress can help you to keep your immune system healthy. One way of doing this could be by keeping a journal, as this can help you to see where your stress is coming from. You can then come up with some strategies to help you manage this.
Read more of Cory’s blog post.
How a medical bracelet can support you in an emergency?
A medical bracelet is designed to alert people of your medical conditions or any other concerns you might have that may be relevant to your care in the event you become unconscious or otherwise incapacitated. Medical alert jewellery is conveniently placed at your pulse points at your wrist and neck, so when first responders check your pulse, they will automatically find out what conditions you have or what medication you take, so the right treatment can be administered quickly.
Do I need a medical bracelet if I have Cancer or Immunosuppression?
Variety of symptoms.
Cancer Research UK highlights a range of physical effects and symptoms of cancer, which can include breathing problems, sickness, and fatigue. Read more about the physical symptoms of cancer and how you can manage these.
Wearing a medical bracelet with details of your condition can help those around you understand the reasons why you are feeling unwell. This also helps to avoid your breathlessness from being mistaken for another condition (such as Asthma), and you can get the right treatment that you need.
Greater risk of infection.
The National Cancer Institute explains how medications such as immunosuppressants can cause your immune system to weaken and be less likely to fight of infections. Because your immune system is compromised during treatment, it will be harder for your body to fight off illnesses, so it’s required to stay away from anything inflicting such as viral infections.
Wearing a medical bracelet can inform medical staff of your immunosuppression and due to this, they may carry out a different form of treatment, such as giving you a private treatment room, or administering a particular form of medicine. If you take regular medication as part of your treatment, then your medical bracelet should include details of this, as well as where to find your medication in case you find yourself in an emergency.
Support your child.
If your child has cancer or immunosuppression, then they are at their most vulnerable. They have an increased risk of contracting serious infections, such as the ongoing Covid-19 virus. A compromised immune system in children can be a lot worse than adults as their bodies are still developing, so keeping them safe is essential.
If you have a child with cancer or immunosuppression, encouraging them to choose and wear a medical bracelet can help them to receive the right treatment when they need it. Kalie writes for the Transplant Mom Blog and describes how her daughter receives treatment for a medical condition which suppresses her immune system.
Kalie describes how your child can choose their own style and colour of their medical bracelet, and this then becomes a way for them to communicate with other adults in the case of an emergency. As your child becomes older, you can feel comfort in knowing that their medical bracelet contains the important information about their medical condition and treatment.
What should I engrave on my medical bracelet?
You may wish to include your name, your current medical status, details of any medication which you are taking, and your emergency contact details. If you are immunosuppressed, including this on your bracelet will allow medical staff to see this, and give you the best form of treatment.
If you’ve undergone breast cancer treatment, then you may wish to include details of your increased risk of developing lymphedema. This means that medical workers can treat you in a way which avoids causing your body any further trauma. Read more about lymphedema and how it can be managed.
If you don’t want to include too many personal details, you can choose a more subtle medical bracelet. This can have your current medical status, with words such as ‘Breast Cancer’, ‘Immunosuppressed’ or ‘At Risk of Lymphedema’. These words become your voice in a time of need and will help to make sure you are treated quickly.
If your cancer treatment changes, many of our medical bracelets have a metal charm, which means you can purchase a new charm when you need to update your details.
We also recommend that all medical bracelets or necklaces include a medical symbol. These symbols are easily recognisable, which alerts those around you to find your item of medical jewellery and information about your medical condition in an emergency. Medical staff are also trained to look out for medical symbols, as this helps them to understand the treatment in which you need.
Where to go for more support?
A diagnosis of cancer can feel overwhelming as you try to cope with both the physical and emotional effects. Cancer Research UK describes how it can help to understand your illness a little bit better. This will also help your family and friends to better understand your illness and how you are feeling.
Read more about coping with cancer.
If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with cancer, you may feel unsure about what to say or do. It is important to become a good listener, and to be open to how the person might be feeling. Cancer Research UK have some helpful information on how to support a friend or a loved one who has cancer, as well as some top tips from cancer patients themselves.
Having a read of other people’s experiences can help you to feel less alone, and to build your own ways of coping with Cancer or Immunosuppression. Georgie Swallow documents her diagnosis of blood cancer on her Instagram page and her blog, where she shares self-care tips including how to deal with feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
Blogger Deborah James also shares her experiences of being diagnosed with and receiving treatment for bowel cancer. You can find Deborah over on her Instagram, and she also documents her story on the ‘You, Me and the Big C’ podcast. This is updated weekly, and takes a candid look at cancer, covering topics such as intimacy, love, grief and how to feel more comfortable in opening up and speaking about your experience with cancer to others.
Listening to a podcast can be a great way to feel connected to others who may share the same experiences as you, and you may discover new ways of coping with your condition. Have a listen to the ‘You, Me and the Big C’ podcast.
You can also join a support group, to find others who will know and understand what you are going through. There are a few online support groups listed below, and you can also find local help and support groups if you have been affected by cancer.
Cancer Research UK also has details of where families can find support for you and your child. Have a read of their page.
Writers at the Mastectomy Shop explain why is it important to wear a medical bracelet if you have lymphedema. Read more about lymphedema and how it can be managed.
For those with breast cancer, the pink ribbon is recognised as a symbol of breast cancer awareness. Breast Cancer Now explains how the pink ribbon originated in 1994, alongside the first UK Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The pink ribbon is said to be a symbol of hope, strength, and unity for all.
Read more about the history of the pink ribbon and breast cancer awareness.
We have also put together a guide for you to learn more about the other awareness ribbons, and what each one represents. There are a range of colours for other types of cancer, as well as for other medical conditions. Have a read of our blog post.
If you prefer not to have a medical symbol and would rather keep your medical jewellery discrete, please just ask and we will do this for you if we can.
If you have Cancer or Immunosuppression, wearing a medical bracelet or necklace allows you to feel like yourself again. You can choose your own style, design and engraving to let others know how to help you in an emergency. Equally, your friends and family members will feel reassured knowing they can keep in contact with you.
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