Living with cancer blog

Choosing your treatment team

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. August 13, 2011

If you're someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer, it is overwhelming to deal with all of the information and decisions needed to move forward in your cancer care. It's important to learn all you can and ask questions along the way so that you have confidence in your treatment plan and the team leading you through treatment. Here are a few questions to consider as you start to make decisions:

  • Is this the person (doctor, nurse practitioner, etc.) you want to lead you through your treatment experience? Do you have confidence in them? Are you comfortable with them? Do you feel that they're able to listen and respond to your concerns? If the answer is no to any of these questions, it's OK to ask for a different provider.
  • Do you have enough information to make a decision about your treatment? If not, what is needed? Take time to understand all aspects of your treatment options.
  • Does the treatment facility specialize in your cancer type? Ask about their experience with your cancer type, success rates and resources.
  • Should you ask for a second opinion? Remember that it's OK to request this.
  • What are the risks involved with treatment? Ask about short- and long-term side effects.
  • What about when treatment is over? Ask about the long-term plan for care after treatment ends.
  • Do you have a support person (or persons) to be with you along the way? This might be a family member or friend who can help you absorb and reflect information and decisions. They can also be there when you need emotional and physical support. If you don't have someone, ask about resources that are available to help you, such as mentors, coaches, navigators, social workers and educators.

One of the most important things is confidence in your treatment team. Take time to get your questions answered so that you can make informed decisions. I know that many of you can add to this list, as you learn so much from each other. Share your ideas and suggestions as you coach each other through this experience.


Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Follow on Twitter: @SherylNess1

19 Comments Posted

Aug. 13, 2011