The Cancer Journey
Choosing the Right Treatment
A cancer diagnosis is shocking and life changing. Very soon afterwards you will be bombarded by a slew of unfamiliar medical terms and faced with many decisions for your treatment. Many people are scared of the side effects of cancer therapy which adds anxiety. Well meaning relatives and friends will have a lot of well-meaning suggestions which adds to the confusion.
It is important to take some time to sit down and take a deep breath and focus. Do some essential research by listening to reputable oncologists, cancer professionals and websites. Make sure the information you receive is accurate and verified, inaccurate information will put your health at risk. The unfounded fear of cancer treatment may lead people to “run away” and seek alternatives. Speaking to survivors and trusted friends/relatives who are doctors can sometimes assure you things are not that bad and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The first step is to fully understand your diagnosis. Moving forward, there are often several options depending on your type and stage of cancer.
See Types of Treatment Section
Things to Consider
In the midst of swirling emotions such as fear, anxiety, denial and shut-down, take time to listen and digest, and the advice from your oncology team. Consider the following:
- The goal of your treatment: Not all patients with cancer can expect the same goals in their treatment plan. Your goal to fully recover from cancer (cure) may be different from the goal of living the rest of your life comfortably (prolongation of life and improving quality of life but not cure).
- Consult guidelines: There are published guidelines available that help with the decision of treatments such as those published by NCCN guidelines that are worth looking into when making your treatment decision. Stick to reputable and verified websites
- Side effects: Different cancer treatments cause different side effects that have a range of different impacts on your life. Ensure you understand the side effects of each treatment by discussing them with your oncology team.
- A second opinion: Do not fear getting a second opinion from another oncologist before committing to your treatment plan, especially if you feel that what they are offering does not tally with your research.
- The cost: One of the biggest challenges with cancer treatments is the cost. Find out what your insurance or health cover will allow before proceeding.
- Ask your friends and family: While it is ultimately your decision, it is important to speak with your loved ones to consider their opinion.