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You can’t fight cancer alone. You need help from a team of cancer specialists. In addition to oncologists, your health care team will likely include other clinicians, such as nutritionists, pain management specialists, psychologists, and/or rehabilitation therapists, to address your other needs throughout treatment. In addition to finding an experienced, multidisciplinary care team, it's important to find one that treats you as an individual and makes you a partner in your care.
You are ultimately in charge of your health. It's important that your doctor takes time to listen to you and answer your questions. Unfortunately, today’s health care system often leaves doctors feeling hurried and patients confused.
More and more, people fighting cancer are beginning to take an active role in their care. Taking an active role means working cooperatively with your health care team and asserting your needs. Even if you prefer to have your doctor take the lead, you should be fully involved in decision-making about your treatment.
Being an active participant in your cancer care can give you a greater sense of control over the situation. One way to become an active participant in your care is to build a good relationship with your cancer team. You can gain confidence and become empowered to fight when you feel like you have a team fighting with you.
A good doctor-patient relationship is an essential component of cancer care. A good relationship is built first on trust. You need to be able to trust your doctor and other members of your health care team. A lack of trust can create a barrier to receiving the care you need and deserve. A good relationship is also sustained by mutual respect. Your cancer team deserves respect, and so do you. Your doctor should offer you a central role in the decision-making process, and work with you to select a cancer treatment plan that is right for you. Moreover, a good partnership with your health care team is based on open and effective communication.
Even if you have a good relationship with your health care team, talking about your cancer experience can be a challenge. However, good communication with your doctor is important for many reasons. It can help you:
An important part of your cancer care is asking questions of your health care team. Your needs are unique and your questions will change throughout your care. The following are some examples of questions you may decide to ask your cancer team:
Cancer can be overwhelming. You may find it difficult to concentrate or to comprehend the information you receive from your doctor and/or other sources. You may feel hesitant to ask questions or to express your concerns with your health care team. If you are dealing with symptoms, such as nausea or fatigue, you may not want to mention it during your appointment because of time constraints. However, it is very important to find a way to communicate these details with your doctor. Effective communication will help you feel confident in your treatment and get the support you need.
NOTE: THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTH PROVIDER PRIOR TO MAKING DECISIONS ABOUT YOUR TREATMENT.
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