Taking charge of your treatment
Prepare your body, mind, and spirit for the challenges ahead.
You may feel that your cancer
treatment is completely in the hands
of your health care professionals.
That’s not the case. There’s a lot you
can do to empower yourself in the
fight against cancer and put yourself
in the best position to benefit from
treatment — whether this is your first
battle with cancer or you’re facing
Some people liken preparing for
treatment to training for the Olympics.
Like an athlete, you want to make
sure you’re in peak form for the
While staying in shape may sound
like a tall order when you’ve got cancer,
it’s an important way to contribute
to the success of your treatment.
Eating a wholesome diet, getting
enough rest, and staying as physically
active as you can will make you feel
healthier and more confident.
Get your team together
Your network of friends, family, and
other people with cancer can be an
practical support as
you undergo therapy.
Many people in
treatment keep a Web page, Web log
or blog, or send out regular group
emails, to express their feelings and
keep everyone up to date. Some organizations
offer sites where you can
create a free Web page, post regular
updates about your treatment, and
receive messages of support.
Learning as much
as you can about
the type of cancer
you have can help
you evaluate your
options and ease
your fears about the unknown. Many
treatment facilities have education
departments or websites where you
can find out about specific cancers,
treatments, and procedures.
The Internet can be an indispensable
resource for information about
cancer and places to go for treatment.
It also offers valuable tools, including
message boards, chat rooms, and
other virtual meeting places for
people with cancer. But you may
feel overwhelmed by the quantity of
sometimes conflicting information.
And some resources may be out-of-date,
incorrect, or simply misleading.
It’s best to think of the Internet not
as the authoritative source about your
cancer, but as the springboard to a
meaningful conversation you can have
with your doctor and other members
of your healthcare team.
It’s a good idea to take care of any
existing medical problems before you
start treatment. If you’re bothered by
a torn ligament, for example, it makes
sense to have it repaired. You’ll be
more comfortable, and you don’t risk
the possibility of a problem getting
worse because your doctors recommend
against elective surgery while
you’re having therapy.
In addition, a visit to the dentist
is always smart. Cancer therapy can
cause tooth decay. If your teeth are in
good shape before treatment begins,
you may be better able to keep the
damage under control.
The wheat from the chaff
With all the information that’s available
online, you may have trouble
knowing which sources to trust.
Below are some questions to ask
yourself. When in doubt, talk to
Who runs the website? Check the
About Us page or site sponsors to find
out who pays for the website. The
URL, or web address, can also tell
- Sites ending in .gov are funded by
the federal government
- Sites ending in .edu are run by
educational organizations, such
- .org often, but not always, denotes
a non-profit site
- Commercial sites end in .com or
sometimes .org, since anyone can
register a .org web address
Are they selling something? Some
sites — such as .gov and .edu sites —
are non-commercial, while others
may be selling products or services.
While many commercial websites
offer excellent content, others put
primary emphasis on the value of
what they’re offering.
prompts you for personal information,
you understand how it will be used.