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Optimizing Your Treatment

By proactively understanding and managing aspects of your treatment, you can help ensure the best possible outcomes from treatment and maintain some degree of control in your life. Things you can do to optimize your treatment of cancer are:

  • Get informed
  • Stay organized
  • Discuss the effectiveness of your treatment with your TCI care team
  • Work with your physician to select the best treatment for you

Don’t forget that fighting cancer is not a challenge you should face alone. This journey is a team effort that involves family, friends, and your TCI care team.

Don’t underestimate the strength that can come from having your support network by your side. In order to ensure optimal treatment, consider the following:

Get informed

A new diagnosis of cancer can be a shock, making you feel out of control and overwhelmed. Getting informed can help alleviate these feelings. Seek out many resources to investigate your treatment options for your type and stage of cancer. Resources should include your TCI care team, the Snake River Cancer Alliance (support group), books, the Internet, and other patients with your disease. As you learn, identify the specific questions that only your physician can answer. Be careful to sort out the “good” information from the “bad.” Make sure that you are using reliable sources of proven information. Your TCI care team is here to assist you with this.

  • Work toward understanding your diagnosis and stage of disease, goals of therapy, treatment plan, benefits of treatment, and possible side effects. Following a diagnosis of cancer, the most important step is to accurately define the stage of your disease. Staging is a system that describes how far the cancer has spread. (Keep in mind that some cancers, such as leukemia, may not be staged. Each stage of cancer may be treated differently. In order for you to begin evaluating and discussing treatment options with your TCI care team, you need to identify the correct stage of your cancer (see Just Diagnosed section).

  • Stay organized Develop a system for keeping all the information that you gather organized, such as laboratory and test results, admissions and consultation information, and additional instructions. This guidebook is a good start. As you collect test results, insurance letters, materials from your physician’s office, etc., include them in this binder. By doing so, you will have all of your vital information in one, accessible place. 

Discuss the effectiveness of treatment with your TCI care team

It is important that you and your caregivers are able to evaluate treatment options and to understand how cancer treatments are compared so that you can work with your TCI care team to make informed treatment choices. Understanding the goads of a specific therapy, as well as the risks and benefits it poses, will help you decide which treatment is the most appropriate for your situation. Patients typically receive cancer treatment in order to cure cancer, prolong the duration of life, or alleviate symptoms caused by cancer and improve the quality of life. These potential benefits of treatment must be balanced against the risks of treatment. Some risks posed by various cancer treatments may include time away from family and friends, uncomfortable side effects of therapy, and/or long-term complications or death.

  • Treatment of cancer is associated with risks. It is important that you evaluate the risks and benefits of treatment within the context of the overall goal of receiving cancer therapy.

  • Cancer treatment may be inconvenient, prolonged, or unavailable close to home. These are important considerations when evaluating treatment options, but not typically mentioned in medical journals reporting the results and benefits of new treatments.

Select your optimal treatment

  • Cancer treatment varies depending upon your type of cancer, stage of cancer, and overall condition. Additionally, treatment options might vary depending on whether or not the goal of treatment is to cure the cancer, keep the cancer from spreading, or to relieve the symptoms caused by cancer. You and your TCI care team will consider all of these factors as your work on selecting your optimal treatment plan.