Like any other complex task, managing cancer treatment requires making the right decision at the right time. Diagnosing cancer at an early stage often leads to a higher probability of preventing fatal consequences. Contrary to popular belief, cancer isn’t unbeatable. Don’t believe us? Just ask the thousands of cancer survivors out there. Sure, you’ll be down and out when you get to know about your illness; you’ll want to cut off from friends, family, or your co-workers. However, a cancer diagnosis doesn’t always mean imminent death.
That said, cancer can spread inside a human’s body quickly if patients don’t get treatment right away. Furthermore, treatments can vary from cancer type to its stage. Some might require chemotherapy, while others you can kill through radiotherapy. Carefully planning and managing your treatment plan is key to increasing your chances of outliving the ailment. So, if you don’t know where to begin, listed below are a few steps that’ll help you plan out your cancer treatment.
Step 1: Set Some Ground rules
Before you decide to explore treatment options, you have to set some ground rules. You’ll find it relatively easy to choose your treatment plan if you:
Set Realistic Expectations
Your oncologist can provide you with estimates about what to expect from every treatment type. You may be willing to go through the side effects depending on the benefits of the treatment type you chose. It is a wise decision to share your preferences with your doctor beforehand.
You’ll need support from your family, friends, relatives, and doctors when undergoing cancer treatment. Your willingness to put up with cancer treatment and its side effects might eventually come down to how much support you receive from your loved ones.
Understand the Decision-Making Process
You may want to lead the decision-making process, or you might turn it over to your oncologist. Furthermore, there are some decisions that only you will have to make. For instance, will you pay for your treatment through your pocket, or will you hire mesothelioma attorneys and get your employer to pay? Do you prefer lengthy treatment, or do you want to have a particular organ removed for quick relief? In the end, whether emotional or financial, support is critical in the decision-making process.
Step 2: Set a Goal
Knowing the end goal of your treatment plan will enable you to narrow down your treatment choices. Are you looking for symptom relief, stabilization, or searching for a more permanent solution? Depending on the type and stage of your cancer, you might set goals that will ultimately lead to:
If your cancer is in its last stages or you didn’t respond well to treatments, you may decide that you only want to spend the little time you have left in complete comfort. Your oncologist will work to ensure that you reduce symptoms as much as possible and remain pain-free.
Just like comfort, if your cancer hasn’t responded well to treatment or is at its end stage, you may have to adjust your goals to control your cancer from spreading to other body parts. Different treatments might have different outcomes. If managing your cancer and stopping its spread is your primary goal, you will have to adjust your plan accordingly.
Step 3: Sift Through Treatment Options
To make the most accurate treatment decision possible, always remember the type of cancer you’ve developed, the stage it’s at, and the available treatment options, and their effectiveness. You might want to talk with your oncologist about trustworthy resources such as websites, patient education material, or medical books to support your decisions.
Furthermore, you’ll also want to look at how much your treatment will cost. There are numerous treatment options available in different price brackets. However, the treatment type you choose solely depends on your cancer type, stage, and affected body part.
Step 4: Analyze Benefits vs. Risks
It is wise to compare the risks and benefits of various treatment options, especially those you are keen on. Some aspect to consider include;
Effect on Everyday Life
Give thought to how a particular treatment option will affect your everyday life. Will you have to take days off from work? Are you your family’s sole provider? Will your treatment require you to travel long distances? First, try to look for answers to these questions and decide accordingly.
Take out the time to learn about the side effects of each treatment option. Your doctor can help you out in this regard while also providing you with information on how to reduce them make the treatment process more tolerable.
Your General Health
If you are suffering from other medical conditions, ask your oncologist how a particular treatment type will affect those conditions. For instance, corticosteroids, commonly administered to cancer patients, can hinder your diabetes treatments. It can result in medical issues such as hypertension, cataracts, or osteoporosis.
Your treatment goals and personal values will ultimately be a huge deciding factor when choosing from a plethora of cancer treatment options. Only you can know the treatment that will be the best for your situation.
Step 5: Communicate with Your Oncologist
Communicating effectively with your oncologist is the best way to ensure you’re receiving the correct information, which will allow you to make a more informed decision. To do such a thing, speak up when you don’t understand something. If you require more explanation, ask your oncologist. If you stay quiet, your oncologist might think you already have the necessary information and, therefore, might skip out on crucial details. Such miscommunication can have dire consequences.
Moreover, write down questions before visiting your doctor. Try to track whatever your doctor shares with you. You can always record your conversation if your oncologist gives her/his consent. Cancer treatment appointments are generally emotional and stressful, and you’ll forget what you wanted to ask. Furthermore, if you aren’t comfortable visiting your oncologist alone, bring along a friend or a family member to your next appointment. Moral support is a must for cancer patients, and other people might give it to you.
Which treatment plan should you go for? There will never be a 100 percent wrong or right answer. However, being involved in the treatment process every step of the way will provide you greater peace of mind. It will allow you to focus all your energy on what you desire the most. It will keep you safe and pain-free throughout your cancer treatment.
*Photos by Thirdman