The good news in recent years is that there are more and more types of treatment for many kinds of cancer. No longer does “one size fit all” when you are making a decision about the type of treatment you’ll receive. More good news is that increasingly people are making these decisions jointly with their health care team as a part of shared decision making.
The challenge is that having to make these complicated treatment decisions can leave people feeling overwhelmed and confused. This is because for many people there is more than one treatment choice, and each of these choices has advantages and disadvantages. What treatment you choose will depend on what is important to you. A father who is looking forward to his daughter’s wedding may opt for a treatment that will give him time but has some difficult side effects. A woman who is an artist might want to choose a treatment that will allow her to continue to paint.
But there are things you can do to feel more organized and in control, ease some of the distress and anxiety around having to make a treatment decision and not feel regret about your decision as you go forward. One option is to create a written question list to take with you to your next appointment. Studies have shown that making a written list of questions for your doctor when facing a treatment decision can help. Your questions can help you think about what is personally important to you, the risks and benefits of each choice and the likely outcomes of each treatment the doctor feels might be a choice for you. Writing your questions down can help you stay focused on the most important questions and makes the best use of the time you have with your doctor.
Need help with your question list? The Cancer Support Community has a decision support counseling program called Open to Options™ that can help you prepare your list. Either in person at one of our 53 affiliates or over the phone, in under an hour, the Open to Options™ specialists can help you develop a personal list of questions and concerns that will help you and doctor explore your situation and develop the best treatment option for you.
Armed with a list of questions specific to your situation and taking into consideration what is most important to you, you and your doctor can work together to make sure that the choices you make are right for you.