Become Your Own Advocate
Cancer affects not just the person battling from it, but also their family and friends. It touches on every part of life. The first thing to do is to get organized. There is tons of information available on the different types of cancers, causes, and treatment options Research can help to alleviate some of the fear and confusion, which can occur when dealing with something as serious as cancer. Here are a few tips to consider in getting organized:
- Sit down and create several lists and files. Separate friends and family, business, work and medical into different groupings. This makes it easy to keep track of everything involving each part of your life that is affected by the cancer. Using these lists and files, you can make sure that everyone stays informed and create the network of support you need. You can also keep track of any insurance forms, medical records, or documents you might need for work.
- Create a network of support. Cancer is expensive, time consuming and can put a great emotional burden on those involved. Having a network of support can help alleviate many of the issues that can arise from cancer and cancer treatments.
- Identify what you need. This will give you the basis from which to work. Some people are able to work during cancer treatments while others are not. Be proactive in making sure that you and your family are financially provided for during this time.
- Education is paramount in fighting cancer. The more you know, the more precise your questions and the better able you are to represent yourself with your medical community. A variety of treatment options exist depending on the type of cancer, however, if you do not ask specifically you may not be aware of all the options available to you.
- Persistence pays. Even when you are feeling your worst, do not give up and maintain a positive attitude. A positive attitude will go a long way in all your interactions especially when dealing with the frustrations that come with cancer and its effects.
Be Your Own Advocate
Protect yourself and ensure that you receive the best care possible. The majority of individuals suffering from this disease spend a great deal of time in the hospital. You do not have to let this get you down. There are many things you can do even from the hospital.
- Prepare for the Doctor’s Visit: Doctors usually visit daily. They are also often busy and overworked. This means they may not take the time to explain everything to you completely or they may not consider a piece of information important in comparison to other points. Make a list daily of anything you have questions on. This will help to facilitate conversation between you and your healthcare team and make sure that you get the answers you need.
- Track all bills: Billing is one of the most frustrating aspects of hospital and doctor’s visits. Bills are often hard to understand, full of code and you may be billed for things that you should not have been. In order to avoid this frustration, make sure to obtain copies of every scan, test, report and any other paperwork for completed procedures. Maintain a file and keep it in chronological order. Many bills only refer to date of service as an indication of which procedures were done. Billing does not wait for your cancer to go into remission. Most cancer patients will have to handle the financial issues that come with paying for cancer. Having this information, especially from hospitals, can help to alleviate some of the frustration and burden that comes from the financial stress.
Select Your Treatment Team
First things first, find the right doctor. Cancer treatment can draw out for months and, sometimes, years. Even when initial treatment is successful, you often have to visit specialists for years in order to check for recurrences. This means years of interaction with your doctor(s).
Find an experienced doctor willing to listen and engage you in your treatment. Part of being your own advocate requires the willingness to stand up and be heard. This may be complicated when you don’t have time and/or access to your doctors. There are ways to deal with this that can help you to gain a greater understanding of your disease.
Most appointment setters, schedulers, or receptionists at doctor’s offices will ask you what your appointment is for; let them know that you need to consult with your doctor and it might take some time. You can have the office schedule several blocks of time. Some doctor’s offices see patients at 15-minute intervals. You will have an easier and more productive meeting if you and your doctor have the necessary time together.
Patient advocacy is important and you can easily become your own advocate and protect your rights. Look for respect, fair treatment, and the right to know about your cancer and all your treatment options.