Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stevie JoEllie's Cancer Care Fund Partners with

For Immediate Release
Clifton, New Jersey
November 30, 2008

Stevie JoEllie's Cancer Care Fund Partners with

Stevie JoEllie's Cancer Care Fund is dedicated to it's fundamental mission of thyroid cancer awareness, access to care and free supportive services for thyroid cancer patients and survivors nationwide. As a 100% volunteer led organization the most important resource we have is people – those whom we serve and all of us who work, who invest in and who care about our growing community of thyroid cancer patients and survivors nationwide.

Stevie JoEllie's Cancer Care Fund has teamed with to introduce a revolutionary new way raise funds to support and achieve our mission.

Do you or someone you know shop online?

Now you have a way to get the best price for items you already purchase, receiving cash back on those purchases, and support our organization at no cost to you. By joining forces with GreenBackStreet we can now offer this cash back rewards program to you through the Cash Back Mall. Shop at any of the Mall’s more than 1,100 stores including:

To start receiving cash back on your purchases all you need is 30 seconds, your contact information, a valid email address and this website: 

Thank you for your continued support and we hope you enjoy your free cash back shopping experience.

Stevie JoEllie's Cancer Care Fund is working to develop and launch an access to care grant program for thyroid cancer patients and survivors nationwide that includes a set aside fund to assist thyroid cancer survivors with medical costs associated with follow up treatment, annual exams,  diagnostics and medications. 

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Supportive Services Available for Cancer Patients

When you or a loved one is facing cancer, many issues, decisions and difficulties arise. There are support services to help you deal with many of these problems. The first step is learning about the types of services available.

What kind of help can you get ?

  • General Information: Many cancer organizations provide a wide range of information on different types of cancer, as well as information on treatment decisions, clinical trials and side effects management.

  • Emotional Support: Cancer can make you feel lonely, scared or distressed. Counseling, support groups, patient to patient networks, and other types of support are available to help you cope with these emotions.

  • Financial Needs: There are companies and organizations that help cancer patients with medical billing, insurance coverage and reimbursement.

  • Transportation Needs: Many people have trouble getting to medical appointments during and after treatment. In many communities, transportation services are available to help you.

  • Housing / Lodging: Some organizations provide lodging for families of a patient undergoing treatment, especially if the patient is a child or a teenager.

  • Children's Services: There are organizations that provide services for children with cancer or children who have a family member with cancer, including counseling, summer camps and "make a wish" programs.

  • Home Health Care / Hospice: Home health care is for patients who no longer need to be in the hospital, but still require skilled nursing care at home. Hospice care focuses on the special needs of terminally ill patients.
For more information please visit our website or email

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cancer: Sharing Your Diagnosis At Work

Deciding to tell your colleagues and your boss about your thyroid cancer can be a challenge. Learn when and how to share your diagnosis with those at work.

Once you and your medical team decide on your thyroid cancer treatment, you will have an idea of how much time you might need off from work and which side effects could mean missed hours here and there. Fatigue might leave you with less energy on a daily basis for a few weeks; irritability and cramps can result from your synthetic hormone treatment while the best dosage is being determined. Talking honestly with your employer about these possibilities can make it easier for you to adjust your work schedule, if the need arises.
Thyroid Cancer at Work: Your Medical Leave Rights
Depending on the company you work for and its policies and attitudes, you may find the flexibility you need — or not. You have the most protection against any kind of discrimination if you work somewhere that has 50 or more employees, says Greta E. Greer, MSW, LCSW, director of survivor services for the American Cancer Society, because such workplaces must abide by the federal government’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) passed in 1993.
“If you’re protected by FMLA, then you can expect that your employer will make reasonable accommodations if, for instance, you need flex time while you are receiving radiation treatments for your thyroid cancer,” she says. At the heart of FMLA is the provision that an eligible employee can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for a medical reason such as cancer.
“If you’re employed by a small business, you may have less job protection,” Greer says. “Still, it’s hard to imagine that in this day and time, an employer would fire you over a cancer diagnosis, especially if you’re just going to be out a few days for thyroid cancer surgery,” she notes.
Even smaller workplaces — those with at least 15 employees — are legally bound to follow the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and not discriminate against employees on the basis of their physical limitations. In many cases, cancer may not be thought of as a disability. Nevertheless, if your cancer or the side effects of your treatment lead to lasting difficulty carrying out activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, grooming, household tasks, and the like), then the protection afforded by the ADA does apply to you.
Thyroid Cancer and Work: Getting Good Counsel
There are many different variables that will affect whether and how you tell your boss about your thyroid cancer diagnosis. Fortunately, there are also many resources you can turn to for advice on your specific situation.
“Call the American Cancer Society toll-free number, 1-800-ACS-2345, any time with questions,” Greer urges. Cancer information specialists are available 24 hours a day to provide guidance about employment and any other issues related to cancer. 
If you need to consult an attorney who specializes in employment issues, contact your local bar association; these groups often provide legal referral services, sometimes at no cost.
Thyroid Cancer and Work: An Employee Perspective
Marcella Reed (not her real name), a 36-year-old attorney who works for the federal government in Washington, D.C., was treated for papillary thyroid cancer five years ago. She feels fortunate that she “didn’t have to worry about job security. But for privacy reasons, I didn’t want the entire workplace to know. After the diagnosis was confirmed and I knew what the treatment would be, I notified the absolute minimum number of people at work, those who had to know why I would be gone from the office for one week and then another,” she recalls.
A major reason Reed kept her diagnosis quiet was that she didn’t want her thyroid cancer to alter “the perception others had of my fitness and health,” she explains. In a competitive work environment, cancer can be seen as a liability, even if termination is not a concern.
Thyroid Cancer and Work: An Employer Perspective
Carl (not his real name) is a manager at a major insurance firm on Long Island, N.Y., whose administrative assistant was treated for thyroid cancer two years ago. The assistant was away from work for about four weeks after surgery and radioactive iodine therapy. “She told me that she would probably be quite moody until her [synthetic thyroid hormone] dose was properly regulated, and I understood," Carl recalls. "She was very tired, too, in the weeks after she first returned."
Carl appreciated this level of communication and the fact that his employee made weekday doctor's appointments in the morning or late afternoon to avoid missing a lot of work. "She also told me about them as far in advance as she could, so we could have someone to cover her phone," he adds. "A little consideration goes a long way from the perspective of both the person who has cancer and the one who works with him or her.”
If, after weighing your options, you decide to share your thyroid cancer diagnosis with your employer, consider doing so early in the course of your treatment. That way, you'll be able to devote your energy to getting better.
Last Updated: 05/14/2009

Friday, November 21, 2008

Helping Your Doctor Help You !

The medical profession must rely on the information we as patients provide them  with to help guide our possible diagnosis, necessary diagnostic testing, treatment options and care. It is important that you communicate as clearly and as honestly as possible with your healthcare team at all times.

Doctors need your full medical history as well your family medical history because some thyroid cancers have a familial or genetic link. Some medications you are currently taking may interfere with your treatment and more. Sadly, what you don't share with  your doctor may be as just as important, or even more important, than what you do tell him or her.

Sometimes we fail to share important information about alternative therapies or natural supplements we are currently taking for other medical conditions, or we are not completely honest  about our illness onset, signs, symptoms or medication and treatment side effects because we don't realize they are very important to the doctors' ability to help us.

Here are some tips on how to best help your doctor help you!

1. Pay attention to your presenting sign(s) and symptom(s). Pay attention to the location, duration, and character of the discomfort. Also record what brings the symptom(s) on, what relieves them, and what makes them worse.

2. List past and current medical diagnosis such as other malignancies, renal failure, hypertension, heart failure, or diabetes.

3. List past surgeries, diagnostic procedures (mammogram, chest X-rays, CT scans, etc.), and hospitalizations. Bring all diagnostic films, clinical and hospitalization records, and procedure reports if you have.

4. List all medications and their dosing information. You should include all prescription and over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements, herbs, and vitamins. If you have any questions about the medications you are taking, bring the medications with you to show your physician.

5. List all drug and food allergies if you have. Describe the detailed symptom(s) (skin rash, edema, etc.) of the allergy to your physician.

If you are not sure about something talk it over with our healthcare team --there is never a stupid question or concern when it comes to your medical treatment.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Regaining Control After A Cancer Diagnosis

Loss of control is a common feeling for cancer patients. A cancer diagnosis presents many challenges for you and your loved ones. Most aspects of your life are going to be temporarily interrupted or disurpted.

At first, most people diagnosed with cancer will need some time to adjust to the news, think twice about what is most important in their lives, and find support from loved ones.

For many, this time is a very difficult one, full of emotion - feelings such as disbelief, shock, fear, guilt, and anger are all normal. These feelings use up a lot of mental energy, which can make it hard to absorb and understand all of the medical information being given to you. It will probably take some time for you to come to terms with your diagnosis and treatment plan, both physically and emotionally digesting the long term implications for your health and ultimately your life.

People with cancer may feel disconnected from their bodies and may be less in control of it's functions. Tending to your medical care disrupts usual routines. The side effects of treatment (fatigue, post surgical pain, altered taste, dry mouth, nausea, weight loss or weight gain among others) may affect your ability to socialize and participate in your usual activities of daily living. Try to remind yourself that many of these disruptions are temporary and will fade into memory in due time.

Asking questions about your diagnosis may help you to feel more in control. Some questions to ask might be:

  • What is my diagnosis exactly ? What type of cancer do I have ? What stage ?
  • What is the standard of care for this condition ? What treatment do you recommend for me ?
  • Are there other treatment alternatives ?
  • What are the benefits of these treatments vs my recommended treatment plan ?
  • What are the risks of my treatment plan ? What are the alternative treatment option risks ?
  • What medicines can I expect to take and why ?
  • What medicines are you giving me now ? What for ?
  • How should I expect to feel during treatment ?
  • What side effects, if any, can I expect to have ?
  • What can be done about side effects ?
Bring your notes with you to appointments to help you remember what you wanted to ask or tell your provider. When you get instructions from your provider, write them down. Ask for information in writting if possible. Make sure you understand them before you leave the office. Then follow them exactly. You may also want to keep written notes on any health questions and concerns you may have.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Living With Cancer One Day at a Time

Today may be the first day you've had to live with the diagnosis of cancer, or it may be one of the many days you have "survived" this disease. Either way, you probably found out that cancer has changed your life in significant ways.

You must cope with changes in your emotions, your health, your body image, your support system, your whole outlook life! Yet, just as cancer has changed your life, the way you live your life can change your cancer - from a monstrous threat to a manageable condition.


Medical advances are leading to new cancer treatments every day. Even with promising breakthroughs, however, cancer is often a chronic illness-- or at least the fear of recurrence is always there. Cancer is something you may have to live with for a very long time. This CareNote offers insights from courageous cancer survivors to help you live with cancer one day at a time.

  • Build a support team. If your diagnosis of cancer is fairly new, the shock of it may leave you emotionally shaky. Ironically, this can be a time when family and friends find it hard to understand your struggles. They may not know what to say or how to react to your intense emotions. In their confusion they may even avoid you.
Feeling alienated from others during this time is common, but now is not the time to go it alone. Try to remember that your loved ones emotional equilibrium has been shaken too. Maybe they just don't know how to comfort you. Maybe they don't want to face their own fears about losing you.

Communicating your needs and desires to family and friends can be painstaking work. If you've talked and you're still not feeling "heard" try putting your thoughts in a letter. Often just writting about your frustrations can provide relief. A support group of others with cancer can be a great source of comfort and practical advice. Your local newspaper, hospital, or cancer society are good places to start looking for such a group.
  • Use anger to your advantage: Anger, or even rage, is a "healthy reaction" the mourning that comes with any serious illness. And as uncomfortable as it may feel, anger can become one of your best assets in your battle.
A radiology technician I know says he can predict which cancer patients are going to survive by observing them during their radiation treatment. He says a person's will to fight is almost more important than his or her medical prognosis. He also notes that those who appear most angry, ironically, seem to have the best chance at recovery.

After a biopsy revealed malignancy in both her breasts, Laura remembers her despair. "All I could think was that I wouldn't be able to see my little grandson grow up," she says. "Then my reaction changed to "I am going to see Brett grow up!" That was seven years ago. Now Laura and her husband look forward to many more years of enjoying life and their grandson.

A fighting spirit does not guarantee a cure. But if you are struggling to overcome your anger, maybe it's time to channel it into your fight for survival instead. A mental health professional or pastoral care counselor can help you learn how to use all your emotions to your advantange.
  • Make plans. As cancer patients wrestle against the personal threat that the illness presents, life may seem to stand still for them and their loved ones. Others continue to go to school, change jobs, have babies, take vacations. But with tentative feelings about the future, those striken with cancer may stop living their lives fully. They may even unconsciously give up.
"Without making plans for a dinner party, a movie night out, or that family reunion, I had nothing to look forward to," says Pete of the darknest time during his chemotherapy for bladder cancer. "Finally I realized that although I was physically and mentally slower, I was able to do many of the things I loved doing before. Making plans gave me a sense of control and hope about my future."

If you haven't set goals lately, do it now. Writte down some short-term and longer-range plans. If you've always wanted to learn how to paint, why not investigate that watercolor class today?

When Laura was faced with her mortality, it prompted her to try new things. She and her husband have traveled extensively since her surgery. She also learned how to use a computer and fulfilled her ambition of becoming a published writter. "Since that time, I've done some of the most exciting and creative things in my life," she says.
  • Survive what is merely survivable: Before your cancer diagnosis, you may have had an idealistic vision of how you would handle such a crisis. When faced with the challenge of cancer treatment, you may have resolved not merely to endure, but somehow to breeze through it. Cancer is an awful disease. It's treatments can be wretched.
If you are just getting into the active phase of therapy, seasoned cancer patients urge you to do only what is necessary to get by; if keeping a positive outlook seems too taxing during the worst of your medical care, give yourself permission to just "be."
  • Forgive yourself. Perhaps treatments are just an unpleasant memory but you still wince when you remember your behavior during that ordeal. Or maybe you are feeling responsible for becoming ill in the first place.
If you are displeased with the way you dealt with the past, talk with loved ones and/or your healthcare professional team. They may be able to give you a more realistic appraisal. Remember, you wouldn't be reading this now if you were not a survivor.

If you have endured surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, large doses of supportive medications, biologics, immunosuppresive therapy or hormone replacement therapy you have a lot to be proud of. This is a good time to forgive yourself for being human.
  • Reduce your stress levels: Pshychoneuroimmunology is becoming a part of many medical treatments these days. Though the word is scary, the concept is simple. It refers to the new scientific field that studies how the mind and emotions affect the physical being.
Studies have shown that stress, from whatever source, has a detrimental effect on the immune system. Your best chance of improving your quality of life is by reducing all your areas of stress.

Some people find self-hypnosis, guided imagery or exercise helpful in relaxing. Others feel energized when they devote to being of service to those around them. Still others find a consistent program of spiritual meditation or reading gives their lives emotional balance.
  • Realize how scary recovery can be. "You are in remission." Since your diagnosis, you've longed to hear these words. But when the final chemotherapy round is completed and your last doctor visit is scheduled, don't be surprised if you are again flooded with strange feeligns.
During treatment, you teamed up with doctors, nurses, therapists, and friends who ministered to your physical and emotional needs. Suddenly this army of cancer fighters begins to disarm and maybe even disband. If you're feeling abandoned by your support system, take heart.

When you go into remission, it's natural to experience a sense of loss. One more time you are redifining your role as a patient. Though you will be forever changed by your experiences with this illness, remission is a time to gather your forces and learn a new identity. You are no longer a cancer patient, you are a cancer survivor !

TAKE HEART: On your journey through the experience of cancer, you will inevitably have times when you feel you don't have even an ounce of strength left to get yourself through the ordeals of that day. When that happens, go ahead and give it all up -- to the faithful God who walks beside you every step of the way. God will give you the strength you need to get through that day....and the next...and the next....and the next.

About the Author: Claire Bradshaw is a registered nurse and free-lance writter who regularly writes about medical and mental health issues.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Communicating Effectively with Healthcare Insurance Personnel About Your Medical Bill

The following excerpt from the take-home guide of the Communicating Effectively with Healthcare Professionals workshop developed by the National Family Caregivers Association with assistance from the National Alliance for Caregiving provides you with practical information for interacting with insurance company personnel, one of the categories of healthcare professionals we all encounter as family caregivers.

The following excerpt from the take-home guide of the Communicating Effectively with Healthcare Professionals workshop developed by the National Family Caregivers Association with assistance from the National Alliance for Caregiving provides you with practical information for interacting with insurance company personnel, one of the categories of healthcare professionals we all encounter as family caregivers.

Talking with Insurance Personnel: Before you pick up the phone to speak to a claims representative, you need to gather some information. to share with the person you talk about the healthcare claim. 
  • Your name and your relationship to the policy holder or care recipient
  • The care recipient's birth date
  • The insurance policy number
  • The name and address of the organization that sent the bill
  • The total amount of the bill
  • The diagnosis code on the bill

The Explanation of Benefits (if you are questioning an insurance payment).

When you start the conversation, ask for the name and telephone extension of the individual who is handling your phone call. If you need to call again, you will want to try to speak with the same person.

Keep in mind that billing office personnel and insurance claims representatives are there to serve you. You are the customer. Be assertive. You should expect to:
  • Be treated with respect and consideration.
  • Have your concerns clarified.
  • Have your questions answered with accurate and timely information.
  • Be informed of any steps you need to take to move things along.

Here are some tips for communicating effectively with people who work in the health insurance system:
  1. Be Prepared. Before you call an insurance company, write down a list of the questions you have so you can handle everything in one phone call.
  2. Take Good Notes. Take notes about your phone conversations, including the date of the call and the information you were given as well as whom you spoke with.
  3. Be Clear and Concise. State clearly and briefly what your question or concern is, what you need, and what you expect.
  4. Be Patient. Health insurance issues are frustrating and time-consuming. Accept that you will spend a certain amount of time navigating through automated telephone menus, waiting on hold and waiting for the claims process to be completed.
  5. Be Considerate. Most insurance personnel want to do their jobs well, and they have a tough job to do. Thank them when they have been helpful.
  6. Speak to them kindly. Assume that they are trying to help you, not that they are "the enemy."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Medical Errors and You: Tips to Keep You Safe

Everyone has a role in making health care safe -- doctors, nurses, technicians and healthcare executives work together to come up with measures that should help keep you safe and avoid medical errors during your hospitalization or even during simple diagnostic procedures. In recent years healthcare organizations across the country are working to make health care safety a priority.

You, as the patient, can also play a vital role in making your care safe by becoming an active, involved and informed member of your health care team. In the case of adolescents and young who may very well be anxious and confused about facing chronic illness, serious medical condition or emergency, parents, family members and adult friends can help keep their loved one safe by also becoming actively informed and involved during medical visits and hospital stays. An Institute of Medicine (IOM) report has identified the occurence of medical errors as a serious problem in the health care system.

The IOM recommends, among other things, that a concerted effort be made to improve the public's awareness of the problem. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, urges patients to get involved in their care and sponsor the "Speak Up" program. Their efforts to increase consumer awareness and involvement are supported by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The "Speak Up" initiative provides simple advice on how you, as a patient or your parents and friends with your permission and acting as your advocates can make your healthcare experience a positive one. Research shows that patients who take part in decisions about their healthcare are more likely to have better outcomes. Outline here are the principles of the "Speak Up" program.

  • It's your body and you have a right to know. Your health is too important to worry about being embarrassed if you don't understand something that your doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional tells you.
  • Don't be afraid to ask about your safety. If you're having surgery for example, ask the doctor to mark the area that is to be operated upon, so that there is no confusion in the operating room.
  • Don't be afraid to tell the nurse or the doctor if you think you are about to receive the wrong medication.
  • Don't hesitate to tell the health care professional if you think she or he is confusing you with another patient.

Make sure you're getting the right treatments and medications by the right health care professional.
  • Don't assume anything !
  • Tell your nurse or doctor if something doesn't seem quite right.
  • Expect health care workers to introduce themselves when they enter your room and look for their identification badges.  A new mother, for example, should know the person to whom she is handing her baby. If you are unsure, ask!
  • Notice whether your caregivers have washed their hands. Hand washing is the most important way to prevent the spread of infections. Don't be afraid to gently remind a doctor or nurse to wash their hands BEFORE touching you.
  • Know what time of day you normally receive a medication. If it doesn't happen, bring this to the attention of your nurse or doctor.
  • Make sure your nurse or doctor confirms your identity, that is checks your wristban or asks your name, before he or she administers any medication or treatment.
  • Ask your doctor about the specialized training and experience that qualifies him or her to treat your illness (and be sure to ask the same questions of those physicians to whom he or she refers you).
  • Gather information about your condition. Good sources include your doctor, your library, respected websites and support groups.
  • Write down important facts your doctor tells you, so that you can look, for additional information later. And ask your doctor if he or she has any written information you can keep.
  • Thoroughly read all medical forms and make sure you understand them before you sign anything. If you don't understand, ask your doctor or nurse to explain them.
  • Make sure you are familiar with the operation of any equipment that is being, used in your care. If you will be using oxygen at home, do not smoke, or allow anyone to smoke in the home while oxygen is in use.
  • Your advocate can ask questions that you may no think of while you are under stress.
  • Ask this person to stay with you, even overnight, when you are hospitalized. You will be able to rest more comfortably and your advocate can help make sure you get the right medications and treatments.
  • Your advocate can also help remember answers to questions you have asked , and speak up for you if you cannot.
  • Make sure this person understands your preferences for care and your wishes concerning resuscitation and life support.
  • Review consents for treatment with your advocate before you sign them and make sure you both understand exactly what you are agreeing to.
  • Make sure your advocate understands the type of care you will need when you get home. Your advocate should know what to look for if your condition is getting worse and whom to call for help.

Medication errors are the most common health care mistakes.
  • Ask about the purpose of the medication and ask for written information about it, including it's brand name and generic name -- writte them down --also ask about potential side effects and allergic reactions to the medication, specially if you have never taken it before.
  • If you do not recognize a medication, verify that it is for you. Ask about oral medications before swallowing, and read the contents of IV (intravenous) Fluids bags. If you are not well enough to do this your advocate should do this for you.
  • Whenever possible make advanced arrangements to have a personal advocate (trusted family member or friend) with you most of the time during your hospital stay.
  • If you are given an IV as the nurse how long it should take for the liquid to "run out". Tell the nurse if it doesn't seem to be "dripping" properly (for example if it's going too fast or too slow).
  • Whenever you are going to receive a new medication, tell your doctors and nurses about all your allergies or negative reactions to medications you may have had in the past.
  • If you are taking multiple medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it is safe to take those medications together. This holds true for vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter drugs too.
  • Make sure you can read the handwritting on any prescriptions written by your doctor. If you can't read it, the pharmacist may not be able to either.
  • Ask about the health care organization's experience in treating your type of illness. How frequently do they perform the procedure you need and what specialized care do they provide in helping patients get well ?
  • If you have more than one hospital or other facility to choose from, ask you doctor which one offers the best care for your condition.
  • Before you leave the Hospital or other facility, ask about follow-up care and make sure that you understand all of the instructions.
  • Go to Quality Check at to find out whether your hospital or other health care organization is accredited.

You are the center of the health care team. You and your doctor should agree on exactly what will be done during each step of you care.
  • Know who will be taking care of you, how long the treatment will last, and how you should feel.
  • Understand that more tests and medications may not always be better. Ask your doctor what the new test or medications are likely to achieve.
  • Keep copies of your medical records from previous hospitalizations and share them with your health care team. This will give them a more complete picture of your health history.
  • Don't be afraid to seek a second opinion. If you are unsure about the nature of your illness and the best treatment, consult with one or two additional specialists. The more information you have about the options available to you, the more confident you will be in the decision made.
  • Ask to speak with others who have undergone the procedure you are considering or must have. These individuals can help you prepare for the days and weeks ahead. They also can tell you what to expect and what worked best for them as they recovered.
  • Remember that there is no stupid question or concern.
  • If anyone in your healthcare team is too busy to answer your questions or clarify your concerns and spend the time necessary to make you feel comfortable ask to speak to their supervisor.
  • In the case of your doctor or surgeon request an appoinment just to talk and go over your concerns if necessary.
  • Make sure the necessary consent forms identify your healthcare proxy and/or advocate. Many hospitals have a universal form you can sign upon admission that specifies who you have designated as your healthcare proxy or advocate. Whenever possible, make sure you ask for this form before you are admitted.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Making The Right Decisions for Your Treatment

The number of treatment choices you will have depend on the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer and other individual factors such as your age, other health factors and personal needs.


Don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to. Make sure you understand all your options and the reasons for your personal treatment plan.

A cancer diagnosis almost always makes people feel they must get treatment as soon as possible or they will be more likely to die. You must believe and trust that you have the necessary time to consider all the options available to you so that you can make well informed decisions about your care and treatment plan.

Cancer treatment often means that you will have more than one health care provider. You may have a team of doctors and nurses, as well as other people involved in your care. Although you may get information from several sources, it is a good idea to choose one provider to be the person you turn to with your questions and concerns. This provider may or may not be the one you see most often but it must be the one you feel most comfortable talking to. Only you can decide and choose which provider will be your main source of information.

You should feel at ease with your primary care provider or team leader. Developing a good relationship with your provider is worth the effort. This means taking the time to ask your questions and making your concerns known. Likewise, your provider must take the time to answer your questions and listen to your concerns. If you and your provider feel the same way about sharing information you will probably have a good relationship.

Before starting treatment, you might want a second opinion about both your diagnosis and treatment plan. Some insurance companies require a second opinion; others may cover a second opinion if you or your doctor request it. There are a number of ways to find a doctor for a second opinion.

(1) Your doctor may refer you or you may ask for a referral to one or more specialists.

(2) At cancer centers, several specialists often work together as a team. The team may include a surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, speech pathologist, nutritionist, social workers and psychologists.

In some cancer centers, hospital clinics and doctors offices, you may be able to see several specialists on the same day.