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If you've received a diagnosis of cancer, your mind may be reeling. Any cancer diagnosis is a challenge and it's normal to feel overwhelmed and worried. Everyone's experience with cancer is different. The stories you hear may not apply to your situation.
However, here are some helpful hints from people who have been through a similar experience.
- Tell your doctor how much information you want. Everyone is different when it comes to deciding on how much to know. Let your doctor know if you don't think you want to know all the details. You can change your mind at any time.
- Reliable, factual information will help you come to terms with your unique experience. You can ask your doctor, and find information online and in books or brochures. Our staff can direct you to resources that may help you navigate your diagnosis and treatment.
- For help navigating the information available, our Cancer Council Liaison helps patients and carers access relevant, supportive, care information and services, in the right place, at the right time. Contact Concord's Cancer Council Liaison on 0413 889 283.
- To speak with a cancer health professional, call the Cancer Council NSW Information and Support Line on 13 11 20. They can tell you about the support services available through Cancer Council NSW.
- You can seek a second medical opinion. Don't be afraid to ask, your doctor will understand the need to put your mind at ease and it is part of your patient rights and responsibilities.
- Write down questions in advance, and keep information in a notebook. This could include details like the date and reason for an appointment. You may need this information to look at later or when you are talking to family members or for insurance and government forms.
- Speak up if you don't understand, otherwise your doctor will assume you have understood.
- Take a family member or friend with you, if possible, when you see your doctor.
- Before your treatment starts, your doctor will talk to you about your diagnosis, your options for treatment and the side effects of treatment so that you may give informed consent. You can change your mind at any time or ask for more information from members of your treatment team to make sure that you have made the best treatment decision for you.
- Some people choose not have treatment and they can change their mind at any time. Deciding not to have treatment does not mean you will be on your own, there are specific treatments available to control side effects if needed.
- Make a help list - things that would be helpful to you or your family, for example, making a meal, or driving the kids to a hockey practice or swimming lesson. Then, when someone says, 'How can I help?' you can look through your list. You, and the person offering to help, will both benefit. Friends and family may want to help but need to know how they can help!