What To Do Next
Here is a guide for people diagnosed with cancer that can be used throughout your healing journey.
1. You or someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer and you want to know what's next in this process.
2. Be Calm, Positive and get Focused. This may not be the way you feel at first so, get any of your negative feelings, thoughts, or emotions out of your system right now; cry, yell, scream, curse what ever works for you. And when you are finally calm, positive and focused, move on to the next step.
3. Take Charge. You will make the final decision about your treatment. You are in charge of your own health. Early on, I learned from the American Cancer Society's own statistics that a patient who takes charge of their own health care has a greater than 30% better outcome. Having someone as your patient advocate can be very beneficial by providing an extra set of eyes and ears in your journey. However, they must only be there to support you and the final decisions in your health must be made by YOU.
4. Keep Records. Immediately start your own record folder for all your medical information and another folder for medical bills, keep it simple. Place the current year on top of each folder. You will have basically three types of medical records: 1) Pathology and lab reports. 2) Diagnostics such as CT Scans, MRI, PET, X-rays and there associated reports. 3) Treatments and doctor summary reports. You can put everything in one folder and for each new year of your long-term survivor-ship start a new folder. Make sure to look over all your medical bills in order to avoid overpayment. Most medical providers are very good at keeping track of their money however, they do make mistakes from time to time.
5. Organize the names and contact information by category of your support and consulting team that will be a part of your journey. For example, doctors, family, friends, spiritual councilors, nutritionist, other cancer survivors and who ever is relevant to your needs. Type this on your computer so you can print out a paper copy and store an electronic copy as well. If you use a cell phone make sure to enter their information on your contact list. Never delete this information, you may fall in and out of contact with people over the years but, you never know when you may want or need to get back in touch with them.
6. Start Writing a journal or diary and make some kind of entry everyday no matter how long or short. I use my Daily Planner for this purpose. This will help you keep track of the days and be a great reference resource in your long term survival with cancer. You can write about your feeling, the people you meet, the experiences you had, the weather, doctors appointments, test results, activities, kids, friends whatever you want it is your journal.
7. Get the Facts. Learn what type of cancer you have; ask your doctor or look it up on the internet. At this point you should know the name of your cancer, the pathology of your cancer and what stage you have been diagnosed with. Try not to get caught up in the statistics of cure rates, treatments and average survival; each person's experience is unique to them and we are just getting the facts at this point.
8. Research and Resources. Continue to learn more about your cancer type and stage. Find someone who has or had the same cancer type as you that has been cured or is considered a long term survivor and ask them what they did to overcome their cancer. Support groups are nice but, you want to know what successful cancer patients have done in their treatment process in order to achieve your best outcome. Keep in mind that your doctor has to follow medical protocol and their clinic's rules, policies, and regulation and may not necessarily be your best resource. Unless your doctor has been or is a cancer patient they may not tell you about other treatment options. Over time you will find other cancer patients will be your best resource.
9. Treatment. The most important thing to keep in mind is that You must be comfortable, confident, and committed to whatever treatment protocol You choose. You make the final decision as to what you are willing to do, not your doctor, not your spouse, not your friend, YOU! All too often your doctor may create a terrible sense of urgency about getting started with treatment right away and we give away our right to choose because of fear. If you need immediate medical attention you wouldn't even be having this discussion with your doctor. STOP and take the time to investigate your other options (Click Here!). Find out how urgent it is when the conventional medical treatment centers, rarely if ever, schedules your treatment on a weekend or holiday.
10. Your healing journey has now begun. You are organized and focused. You are arming yourself with knowledge in order to make the best decisions in your own treatments. Your job is be as healthy and vibrant as possible by learning what that means for you. Remember to have fun, laugh, love and enjoy your life to the fullest.
I provide services as a Certified Cancer Support Educator for people with cancer and for those with loved ones living with this disease. If you are interested in learning more about alternative cancer treatment options, supportive care and life style choices that support your long term survival with cancer; please, visit my Free Services page for more details.
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