Treatment for cancer is complex, and managing all of the different aspects of treatment can be stressful. There are different doctors to consult, many tests to schedule, and instructions relating to your care to understand.
The information in this section is designed to help make the time you spend with your doctors more beneficial and productive.
Being a self-advocate involves taking an active role in your cancer care. It can be a positive experience, often giving a sense of control in a time of uncertainty. Self-advocacy doesn't have to be time-consuming or difficult; it can be as simple as asking more questions at a doctor's appointment. Furthermore, being a self-advocate doesn't mean that you alone are responsible for your cancer care. In fact, it commonly involves seeking additional support from others, including friends, family members, and health care professionals.
Cancer is a disease that requires specialized treatment, so it is important to find a treatment center that meets your specific needs. This includes finding the right oncologist and finding the right treatment center.
Learn more about making appointments with your doctor and other members of your oncology team.
You may be gathering cancer information, making appointments, getting test results, and learning about treatment options. One way to avoid feeling overwhelmed is to become well-organized.
Most people with cancer receive a large number of bills and health insurance claims, creating a cycle of paperwork that can be overwhelming. To reduce your stress and maintain financial health, it is important to develop a clear system for tracking payments and filing important documents.
Keeping an accurate record of your personal medical history is an important step in managing your health. This record should include test results, treatment reports, and notes written by your doctor, for each doctor, hospital, or clinic you have visited. Although each facility keeps its own record of your medical care, it is a good idea to maintain and update a personal copy as well.
Writing down information during visits with your doctor can help you manage what can seem like an overwhelming amount of information. These forms include an extensive medical history form, a form for contact information and insurance information, a form to log test results and appointment notes, and a form to list members of your health-care team.
Links to mobile applications for people with cancer, survivors, and caregivers.
When you visit a health care provider, important medical information—such as laboratory and imaging test results, prescriptions, and recommended treatments—becomes part of your medical record. Some medical records may be kept in paper form. However, an increasing number of health care providers are using electronic medical records (EMRs).
During and after cancer treatment, people may have one or more medications to take at home. These medications include drugs to help relieve side effects, such as pain, as well as drugs to treat the cancer. Because these are powerful medications, they can be extremely harmful if they are taken by someone other than the patient. Therefore, it is important that both patients and their caregivers are aware of the safest ways to store and dispose of the specific medications used during cancer treatment.
ASCO and NCI have developed a card that patients can carry in their wallets that will guide them to Cancer.Net and NCI’s Cancer Information Service if they are displaced from their homes due to a disaster situation.