self-advocacy: how to communicate your cancer care needs

28 Apr 2020

Cancer can be overwhelming, which is why communication and self-advocacy are important. But you may not know where to start, so we’ve compiled this list with some tips to help you.

information is healthy

It might feel like data overload when you’re first diagnosed, and that’s okay. Taking the time you need to process is important, but don’t let it keep you from being informed. Ask your doctor to write down the name and stage of your cancer. This will help you learn more about your specific type of cancer, as well as help determine what treatment choices you have.

choose reputable sources

When you seek information, make sure you are getting accurate information from reputable, trustworthy places, e.g., organizations like the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute or Healthline. Find more information on navigating your breast cancer education here.

asking is everything

No question is too silly, so don’t be afraid to ask; repeat your question(s) or request a simpler answer if you don’t feel like you understand. It might be helpful to take someone with you when you go to the doctor who can listen, take notes or help you in other ways. You can also ask to record the conversation so you can better remember what was discussed with your doctor.

your news, your privacy

Let your doctor know how you want to hear updates and get information about your cancer. This includes asking for all the details, or just the main facts. It may also be helpful to understand your provider’s preferences and processes related to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

money matters

Talk to your doctor about concerns you have about costs to help you figure out how to manage them. You may feel more prepared by doing your own research about financial considerations or finding and paying for treatment.

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Sources: Some portions of this content were originally published by the National Cancer Institute, including the information is healthy; asking is everything; your news, your privacy. See additional resources for a full list of article links.

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