3 Ways to Make Sure Your Cancer Treatment Plan Works for You
A cancer diagnosis can be one of the most overwhelming to receive, and if you’re like many patients, you may feel rushed to make decisions about your treatment. While your doctor may want you to start looking at treatment options as soon as you receive your diagnosis, you’ll most likely have some time to think things over and decide for yourself what treatment plan will work best for you. Remember that your ultimate decision doesn’t have to be set in stone — if you change your mind about treatment midway through the process, that’s okay, too.
1) Don’t Face the Decision-Making Process Alone
Choosing a cancer treatment center and a treatment plan is a big deal, and you need support. Your doctor can offer you the support of his or her expertise, but you can also get support from friends and loved ones. A support group or counselor can also help.
It’s okay to not want to make all of your treatment decisions — many people leave some or all of these decisions up to their treatment team or a designated friend or relative. Some people don’t even want to know details about the treatment they’re receiving or their chances of survival. Alternatively, you may want the final say on any decisions regarding your treatment.
2) Choose a Hospital or Treatment Center
Whether you ultimately go with a specialized cancer treatment center, like our cancer center in Los Angeles, or a community or academic hospital is up to you. A large, specialized cancer treatment center will give you access to many different treatment methods and cancer specialists in the same building, and will make it easier for your treatment team to collaborate. However, if you live far from such an institution, a local community or research hospital may be the best choice. Some things to consider when choosing a hospital include:
- Is this hospital convenient to my home, and if not, can I afford to travel to it?
- Will I be able to undergo clinical trials at this hospital?
- Does the hospital offer support groups for me and my family?
- Will my insurance cover treatment here?
- Does the doctor who will be in charge of my treatment have a good reputation?
Research your cancer treatment options carefully, and understand the differences in treatment approach between a cancer center and a general hospital.
3) Keep Talking to Your Doctor
Your goals for and feelings about treatment may change as treatment progresses. Most cancer treatment options cause side effects that can affect your quality of life; your doctor will be more than willing to offer palliative care to help relive these side effects. If side effects are too severe or you have second thoughts about your treatment decision, you’re allowed to change your mind. Treatment can affect your health, career, and personal life in ways you might not expect. It’s part of your treatment team’s job to help you cope with these changes.
While making a decision about cancer treatment can be daunting, it’s not something you should have to do alone. Friends, loved ones, and a supportive treatment team can help you make the best decision for you, and help you ensure that you’re pursuing the right options throughout your treatment.