How To Become Your Best Cancer Care Advocate

A Cancer Advocate is an individual who is willing to take some responsibility and some control of their life circumstances with cancer. According to NCCS, cancer is perceived as a challenge rather than an enemy when faced by the patient himself. To become your best cancer advocate you should have a proper understanding of the complex nature of this disease. This is vital because it will have a great impact on the first step you take which in turn will determine the quality of care that you will receive after cancer diagnosis. Therefore, follow these five steps that will help you to make smart decisions and that will be beneficial for you in the long term.

Step 1: Decide on a team of medical specialist:

There are different type of cancers with particular one common thing: abnormal growth and accumulation of abnormal cells. Thus, it's important for you to remember that you are not only diagnosed with cancer but you are diagnosed with a particular type of cancer. So, you have to choose a doctor who has considerable experience in treating your type of cancer.

You can start finding your care team from country’s most prominent cancer societies, such as American Society of Clinical Oncology and National Comprehensive Cancer Network. You should choose your care team depending upon their expertise, credentials, accessibility and should give an individualized attention to your case.

The doctor you choose should be a board certified oncologist. However, there are certain health care providers who specialize in the treatment of specific types of cancer. For example, a urologist is specialized in treating prostate cancer or a dermatologist is specialized in treating skin cancer.

Step 2: Integrate your team of medical professionals:

During your on-going treatment process, you will have to interact with more than one specialist that is your general practitioner, oncologist, radiologist, surgeon, etc. These specialists are experts in their own field and therefore would be analyzing your case according to their focused role. Remember, you are a team and you have to work together or you have to make them work together on every step of your treatment process.

To make them work together as a team, you can make a group email address and include all the medical professionals of the team who is responsible for your health care. This will help you to update all of them at the same time regarding any important information about your health.

Step 3: Store your tissue samples

Most of the people are aware that the tissue sample obtained from biopsied lumps or tumors is the one of the most important and reliable source that helps in diagnosing the cancer. However, very less are aware that it is the first assessment of your disease which has not undergone any kind of alteration due to a particular treatment process. It may hold certain clues which can be helpful to your doctors. So, ask your doctor to bank the tissue sample so that you can benefit from the new technology or a new piece of information in your future treatment process.

Step 4: Know your sequence:

Patients with lung, breast or colorectal cancer has to undergo genetic testing routinely. This helps doctors in determining which therapy works best for a particular person with a specific genetic profile. Such routine is not followed everywhere. There are some cancer centers who have technology to sequence some or all patient’s cancer genome. Consult your team of professionals to understand what is right for you and what it means for your treatment options.

Step 5: Explore different treatment options:

During the course of treatment, you and your team of professionals decide to change the method and explore other treatment alternatives such as enrolling in a clinical trial. There is a website which lists different ongoing trials and if you are interested, click on the above link. Moreover, you should be sure that your team is assessing different treatment options and you should be ready to go outside of their direct care. But they should be knowledgeable about the different choices put before you and should act as a friend and supporter in getting the appropriate care that you deserve.

Thus, as a self-advocate you should have the ability to find the best experts and make them work together as a team which should be approachable, manageable, well-organized and are capable to change as per the circumstances.

Reference: National Coalition For Cancer Survivorship

Image Courtesy



More about self-advocacy Cancer


Top Posts | Therapeutics

What Stem Cell Theory Relating to Cancer is All About

Cancer is a large group of diseases caused by the abnormal and rapid division of cells with the ability to invade different parts of the body. The cells do not undergo a cell process apoptosis which is a programmed cell death hence can live longer than normal cells should. Cancer is among the leadi ...

What Should You Know About Biopsies?

In a biopsy, doctors conduct an operation to remove a sample of tissue to analyse it under a microscope. If your doctor has recommended you for a biopsy, then he is suspicious that you may have cancer. It is the most accurate way to reach a definitive diagnosis of cancer. However, there are a lot o ...

12 Reports that Cannabis is an Effective Cancer Treatment

The utilization of cannabis for pharmaceutical purposes dates back to 2900 B.C. Fu Hsi, Chinese Emperor, at the time, refers to Ma (cannabis) for medicinal functions. By 1850, cannabis was touted as a medicinal therapy for cholera, convulsions, dysentery, gout, incontinence, leprosy, tonsillit ... ...

4 Skin Cancer Myths, Busted

About 10,000 people in the U.S. will die this year from a preventable disease called skin cancer. People usually apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and avoid the scorching sun. Regardless of these practices, about 3.5 million people are diagnosed with basal and squamous cell skin cancer in the U.S. every ...

4 Ways Cancer Patients Can Cope With Anger

Anger is a natural response to living with cancer for most cancer patients. People who are diagnosed with cancer react differently but for most of them, anger is the first emotional reaction. People who are diagnosed with cancer are often angry because the disease has disrupted their life ... ...

Discussing Acupuncture to Treat Cancer Side Effects

Recently I had a family member diagnosed with cancer and the recommended treatment was chemotherapy. At the age of 68, he is just above the median age of when most cancer patients are diagnosed. While chemotherapy is one of the most often prescibed forms of treatment, it’s well publ ... ...