Rather than surrendering to despair and impersonal medical treatments, growing numbers of cancer patients are empowering themselves with information and control over their therapies. The trend is finding acceptance in mainstream medicine and helping people with cancer lead healthier lives.
The following resource guides offer tips on developing a strategy for managing the illness, asking the right questions of physicians and getting the right professional and personal support.
The first things you should do (after taking a deep breath and trying to chill):
Studies show that cancer (and other) patients who arm themselves with information typically fare better and experience fewer side effects than those who simply follow doctors’ orders, no questions asked. Being informed gives them some control over their disease—and that feeling of empowerment plays a role in the healing process.
Do not be cowed by your doctor. Ask him or her to explain anything and everything you don’t understand. Prepare questions in advance of appointments (to reduce stress and the odds of forgetting any)—and bring a notebook to jot down answers and other important info. Below are some questions you should ask
Finding a doctor who specializes in cancer care and choosing a treatment facility are essential steps in any patient’s recovery program. One good place to start is with the cancer centers that the National Cancer Institute recognizes for scientific excellence and the capability to integrate a diversity of research approaches.
Patients undergoing treatment can shore up their physical (and emotional) reserves by eating well, exercising and cutting stress (which impairs the immune system).
Does a cancer diagnosis spell the end of your dreams to have a family? In a word—no. Note to readers: check your options before undertaking treatments that may cause infertility. In the event that you cannot become pregnant, there is always surrogacy and adoption. Despite what you’ve heard, it is possible to adopt if you’ve had cancer. The key: pick an agency and country that are open to working with cancer survivors.
Some questions you can do when you visit the doctor