Patient and Caregiver Information

Coping with cancer can be like navigating a labyrinth for patients and their families. Here you can find resources that help empower you and make the journey a little less stressful and confusing.

How to Talk with Health Care Professionals

I froze when the doctor said cancer! That's how most of us feel when we are confronted with a cancer diagnosis. However, it's vital that you get the most information you can from your health care professionals. Cancer Family Care's Guide to Communicating with Health Care Professionals offers important advice and guidance.

+ Going to the Doctor's Office
  • Invite someone to go with you. Ask that person to help you listen, remember, and ask questions.
  • Bring paper and pen with you to take notes.
  • Write down your questions as you think of them before the visit.
  • You may find it helpful to repeat what the doctor says.
  • Ask the doctor to explain medical terms in non-medical words.
  • Remember, you can ask to see your medical records.
+ Some Questions to Ask
  • What test or examination will be used to indicate I have cancer?
  • What type of cancer do I have?
  • What are my options for treatment? What treatment do you recommend?
  • What are the risks of the treatment?
  • What are the side effects? Can anything be done to lessen the side effects?
  • Will I experience pain? What can be done about pain?
    Remember, you have a right to have your pain controlled at all times!
  • What should my family and I do if we are afraid, anxious, angry, or depressed? How can we talk about our feelings?
    The social workers at Cancer Family Care are part of your health care team. They can talk with you, your family, friends, and co-workers about handling emotions and communicating feelings.
  • Will my cancer and/or treatment interfere with my sexual functioning or with fertility?
  • How should my health be monitored after treatments are over?

Bill of Rights - Rights for Cancer Patients and Family Members

+ For Cancer Patients

I have the right to be told the truth about my disease.

I have the right to feel bad if I receive bad news.

I have the right to talk to my doctor and my family about my cancer. And I have the right to privacy in refusing to talk with others about it if that is my choice.

I have the right to be treated as a person and not merely as a "patient" while I am sick. The fact that I am sick does not give others the right to make decisions for me.

I have the right to think about other things besides my cancer. I do not have to allow cancer to control every detail of my life.

I have the right to ask others for help in the things I cannot do for myself, within reason.

I have the right to hope—for a full cure, a longer life, or a happier life here and now.

I have the right—and it is okay—to be angry with people I love. My anger does not mean I have stopped loving them.

I have the right to cope with my cancer in my own way, and my family has the right to cope with it in theirs. Our ways may be different, but that is okay.

I have the right to be free of pain if that is my choice.

+ For Family Members

I have the right to enjoy my own good health without feeling guilty. It is not my fault that someone I love has cancer.

I have the right to choose whom I will talk to about the cancer. If I hurt others' feelings because they are asking too many questions, it is not my fault.

I have the right to know what is going on in our family, even if I am a child. I have the right to be told the truth about the cancer in words I can understand.

I have the right to disagree with the patient even if he or she has cancer. I can feel angry with someone and not always feel guilty, because sickness does not stop someone from being a real person.

I have the right to feel what I feel now, not what someone else says I should feel.

I have the right to look after my own needs, even if they do not seem as great as the patient's. I am permitted to take "time out" from cancer without feeling disloyal.

I have the right to get outside help for the patient if I cannot manage all the responsibilities of home care myself.

I have the right to get help for myself, even if others in my family choose not to get help.

Copyright, Cancer Family Care, 2003

“Cancer is never about one person. People with cancer are so much more than patients. They have families, friends, and employers that depend on them. That is why Cancer Family Care is so important to each one of us, our community, and our world. That's why I support their efforts.”
– Julie Isphording, author, speaker, former U.S. Olympic marathon runner
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