Find the best medical treatment team for you.
Choose a doctor based not only on the recommendations of professionals, but also on the suggestions of other people with cancer. If you have a choice, visit each doctor once before deciding which one will work best with you.
Ask questions. Seek information.
Most people find it helpful to write down questions. Bring a friend or relative with you when you see the doctor. Your friend can help you ask questions as well as remember and understand new information.
Take your time. When you have an important decision to make, such as a choice of doctor, treatment, or surgery, you almost always have a few weeks to think it out and confer with others.
Consider joining a support group. Support groups offer interaction with individuals who have had experiences similar to yours. They can give you reassurance as well as important facts based on first-hand experience.
Take good care of your body. Find out about good nutrition, relaxation techniques, and anything else that helps your body heal.
Treat yourself well.
Celebrate triumphs, no matter how small they may seem. Find any excuse to reward yourself with a massage, a walk in the park, or something else that will give you peace of mind and make your life better.
Hints for Friends and Relatives
Food is love. When taking food to your friend (and to the family too), ask what they would like and can eat. Use a dish that does not need to be returned. Try to help out more than once (treatment may last for months). And remember to follow basic food safety guidelines: avoid uncooked meats, seafood and eggs and be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables.
Make trips fun. Combine a required trip to the physician or therapist with a fun activity. Make arrangements to go out to lunch, stroll a mall, or do whatever he or she would like to do.
Keep your friendship a two-way street.
Although you will no doubt spend time listening to your friend, talking about your own life (both good and bad) will allow your friend to feel needed and to contribute something in return.
Touch or hug your friend at every appropriate opportunity. People who are sick rarely get enough hugs. Cancer is not contagious. But please don’t visit your friend if you have any symptoms of a respiratory infection, and always wash your hands before visiting. Greeting cards, postcards and humorous emails are another way to express your love. Avoid “Get Well Soon” messages unless that is the case for sure.
Use the same language as your friend uses. If he says cancer, you can say cancer. If he says tumor or malignancy, use those words.
Everybody’s battery needs recharging.
If you know someone caring for a loved one with cancer, take over her duties for an afternoon to give her a chance to do whatever she wants to do. If you are that caregiver, give yourself adequate time off. Leave any guilt you might have behind and have a good time.