10 musts for cancer patients: What to consider after diagnosis

A popular guide called “The Cancer Patient’s Workbook: Everything You Need to Stay Organized and Informed” includes a page of advice from Mayo Clinic oncologist Edward T. Creagan, MD. We have condensed what he refers to as the “10 Commandments for the Cancer Patient”:

  1. Know your diagnosis. Find out the name, size and grade of your cancer, which will help as you seek information.
  2. Know your treatment options. These might include radiation, chemotherapy and/or surgery, both open and minimally invasive.
  3. Learn all about chemotherapy. What should you expect in terms of survival rates and side effects?
  4. Recognize the importance of a second opinion. A good doctor should not be offended if you request a second opinion, and chances are he or she can recommend someone.
  5. Acknowledge the importance of a support system. Friends, family and even pets can help you physically and emotionally.
  6. Acknowledge your limitations. It’s likely that treatment will decrease your energy and focus, so make a list of your priorities and cut back on activities as needed.
  7. Maintain a list of your medications, dosages and schedule, and the name of any chemotherapy drugs you have taken.
  8. Familiarize yourself with palliative care and hospice programs.
  9. Do not look back with anger or regret. Realize that not every test or treatment will work the way you want it to, and ruminating over past choices robs you of energy you need in the present.
  10. Be realistic, and spend your time profitably. Traveling around the country collecting multiple medical opinions is probably a waste of time and money; one or maybe two second opinions should be more than adequate.                                                                          cancercarefall15This article appears in the fall 2015 issue of Cancer Care magazine.
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