Read, Read and Read
As a patient or family member of someone who has cancer, we suggest that you learn everything you can about your disease, the treatments available (both experimental and standard) and the side effects of the treatments. Becoming educated about your disease ensures that you will be able to make informed decisions about your treatment options. It allows you to take an active role in your care and treatment.
Question, Question and Question
Come armed with questions about the disease, treatment and experience that the doctor and hospital has, in treating your specific illness. You have the right to ask any question that will affect your health and treatment of the disease. This means you have the right to ask what experience and success your doctor has had, with treating the particular cancer you have.
Do not go to appointments alone
Patients afflicted with such serious diseases are often advised to not attend meetings alone. It is difficult enough accepting that you have cancer…… understanding, comprehending and remembering all the information about the disease and treatment is even more difficult. Remembering and keeping straight all the information, without that second set of ears can become frustrating and overwhelming for the patient.
Keep a journal
There will be many things to remember, so it is suggested that you keep notes, so you that you can refer back to them when needed. Many doctors and nurses will be meeting with you regularly, so you need to ensure that they are all on the “same page.” It is extremely important that you keep the facts straight, as human error can occur, even amongst the best health care workers. Keeping a journal on each meeting or discussion will assist you in keeping the facts straight and will assist in straightening out any oversights or misunderstandings.
Be an advocate for your loved one
Quite often our loved ones, who are fighting cancer, no longer feel like themselves. They feel overwhelmed, confused, anger, depressed etc., and may no longer be their best advocates. Family and friends are often encouraged to take on this active advocacy role, during the treatment of their loved one. Becoming involved in the decisions of all treatment will often ensure that your loved one is getting the best care available.
This is your body and your health that is at risk. Do not be scared to speak up and ask for something, even if you do not think it is possible. You have the right to ask for what you need and want in you health care. You may not get what you want, but you may find out where you could get what you need.
Don't be afraid to seek a second opinion. Respectable Doctors expect that you will get a second opinion. Your family doctor can usually refer you for your second opinion. Make sure the care and treatment that you are getting is the best, for you. Know that you can go outside of your province to get this care or outside of the country, if you so chose.
Clinical Trials are treatment programs that are available to patients looking for alternative forms of treatment. These research programs are conducted with patients to evaluate new medical treatments, drugs or devices with the hopes of creating new and improved methods of treating different diseases. Ask your Doctor where you can look into this further.