Clustering is THE way I ‘do’ survivorship, cancer and transplant.
You see, during the immediate post-transplant period, I was interfacing with the healthcare system almost daily by phone and weekly in person. As time marched forward and I gained confidence in my knowledge of heart transplant and got to know my heart and my body again, I came to the same conclusion that I was finally a teenager again.
I would not arrange my life around the necessities of survivorship; survivorship was going to have to fit into my life which was always one day at a time and often on the fly!
So, what is clustering?
Clustering is ALL about being intentional when it comes to medically necessary and predictable appointments that promote my health and wellbeing AND screenings for late effects of my cancer treatment.
Being intentional in this area kills more than 2 birds with 1 stone, so to speak; I meet the demands of follow up, optimize my health and wellbeing, minimize time spent in doctor’s offices and hospitals, and reserve the majority of my time for the daily of life.
How do I accomplish this in my life?
I have a master list of every screening recommendation specific to my age-related risk factors, and my cancer treatment-related risk factors.
ALL of my well care and follow up care is either once a year or every 6 months at this point, so I’ve set aside November and May as months of my years that I am willing to give a few days to appointments, labs, and/or diagnostic testing.
When something happens that breaks with my November/May clustering, I simply schedule the next appointment in either November or May: easy-peasy. Oh, and by the way, I always schedule my next appointment before leaving the office that way I don’t have to think about it until my calendar alert chimes in.
Clustering keeps it simple and contained, and that’s the way [aha, aha] I like it [aha, aha].
I work very closely with my PCP, Kara Pepper, MD to ensure that the few specialists that are a part of my healthcare team are all communicating not only with Dr. Pepper, but with one another as well.
Do you have a plan for meeting your follow up needs? If so, what is it? How do you keep the demands of follow up from swallowing up your days? Are you actively receiving therapy? If so, how do you organize your days, weeks?