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Book Club: Planet Cancer, Chapter 2

Planet Cancer

Welcome to the comments and discussion of Chapter 2: Getting Your C-Legs of the book, Planet Cancer!  To catch up on Chapter 1: Diagnosis, click here!

Let’s get started!  Chapter 2!


This chapter was extremely informative.  It gives detailed advice and tips on how to navigate so many pieces of the cancer diagnosis and treatment.  Being well informed about your options, bills, scans, treatments, medicines, and insurance is crucial to being able to advocate for yourself and your needs.  Physicians may sometimes not talk to one another fast enough between your appointments and having details about your new meds, notes about questions that arise, and knowing what decisions have been made thus far will help you to keep everyone on your Planet Cancer on the same page.  You are the one most motivated by your care and taking charge of the paper and confusion is important to your sanity, your piece of mind, and your health.

The initial round of tests involved in a diagnosis are typically the Complete Blood Count Test (CBC) and various types of body scans.  The CBC is explained, item by item and the different types of scans, from X-Rays to CT and PET scans, are differentiated to better illuminate the role they play in your diagnosis or while your progress with treatment is monitored.  Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the different types of catheters are explained…both the internal and external variety.  Knowing what you have is a helpful tip when you’re dealing with a nurse who is new to you.

Chapter 2 of Planet Cancer also discusses the different people that you’ll interact with and exactly how you can call upon each of them to help you, from social workers to health insurance representatives.  Each of these people may not play an active role in your week-to-week as a cancer patient/survivor but knowing who you need to ask a specific question to may save you some time and stress in the long run.  The chapter also talks about how to keep track of all of the bills, questions, and notes that you’ll have from the hospitals and physicians.  Your radiologist may bill you separately from your oncologist and the bills may be taken care of by your insurance at different times.  Having an organizational strategy to deal with all of the paper you’ll have during cancer is crucial.  In addition to that are all of the medicines and treatments that you’ll need to stay on top of.  But what if you don’t have insurance?  Well, Chapter 2 of the Planet Cancer book talks about that too!

**It is important to note that some of the insurance specifics have changed since the publishing of this book.  Please see Triage Cancer’s website or the Health & Human Service’s website to get up to date information!

I had high expectations for this book but I’ve been super impressed.  The completeness with which the authors deal with cancer as a young adult has been astounding to me.  If you know nothing and read this book, you will leave armed and ready with the required information or at least the required know-how to get your questions answered!  Dealing with Planet Cancer as a young adult is stressful enough, now you are ready with the techniques and tips to manage your care!


This chapter is SO IMPORTANT. It’s a good guide for the acronyms and C-talk you’ll hear.

All the conversations/words/tests/procedures can get confusing. Do you pick it up over time? Sure. But knowing things ahead of time can be so valuable. From blood cells to scans and catheters to ultrasounds, this chapter provides easy-to-understand descriptions and gives some good tips while taking these things on.

The chapter referenced this a few times but I feel as though I should repeat it – bring a notebook and pen to every appointment, test, and procedure (no, the notes app on your smartphone won’t cut it). Write down as much as you can. This will not only help you remember what was said, but it will help you formulate questions for a future appointment or if you need to call and ask/confirm anything.

A helpful tip: a C folder or binder. At my first appointment, I was given a folder that would eventually become my C bible – it went with me everywhere and it contained all my appointment/test/procedure summaries, insurance docs, and more. It helps to have everything in one place because you never know what you’ll need to refer back to or when (e.g. while on the phone with your insurance company sorting out payments).

A small, but important part of this chapter talks about living wills and the medial power of attorney – things everyone should at least consider and hopefully take action on.

Side note: you don’t have to have C to have a living will or medical power of attorney. Life throws curve balls all the time so it’s important to think about what you’d want and take action to make sure it’s implemented (as the chapter said, notes on the back of a Starbucks napkin won’t do).

I also really appreciated the thoroughness of the insurance world – an experience that can be both rewarding and challenging. The personal stories were fun to read and very relatable. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do (remember, you are fighting for your life).

Thanks for joining us for our first book club of Planet Cancer! To see what you’ve missed, check out Chapter 1: Diagnosis.  Join in next Monday for Chapter 3: Treatment.

If you’re just joining us, here are some logistics:

We will talk about a chapter each Monday until the book is done.  Then, we’ll use one more Monday to talk about general feelings from the book and anything else you’d like to discuss.  We’ll also have a great “meet the author” post coming up!  Join in, in the comments every week!  Also, there will probably be spoilers.  Read along with us!