Talking to Doctors, Friends and Family

Doctor talking to patient

The first emotional reaction of many people diagnosed with cancer is often a sense of being alone in a new and sometimes scary situation.

Nothing can enable your doctor, your family and your friends to do more to help your healing process and to expedite your return to good health, than hearing your thoughts and ideas. This conversation also gives them a chance to share their thinking with you as well. This exchange of ideas enables everyone on your personal cancer care team to do everything they can to help turn your goals into achievable realities.

Talking to Your Doctors

Your doctor brings a wealth of medical information and expertise to your customized treatment plan. You, in turn, bring a wealth of information about what you're feeling at every phase of your treatment, which ultimately inspires not just insights but even new ideas that can contribute to the medical efficacy of your clinical team. To help you articulate your thoughts and ideas, you may want to learn more about your particular kind of cancer, from the Penn Medicine website or the websites of other global epicenters of cancer care.

You may want to ask your doctors questions, as well as other members of your medical team, and write down or record the answers. You may also want to ask for introductions to other patients who have been through a similar experience, and as you become more comfortable with the process you may want to reach out and make some of those connections on your own. There are websites of cancer-specific organizations comprised of former patients who found sharing their own stories to be a most gratifying and life-enriching experience, and these websites can be extremely informative and tremendously inspiring resources. You may also want to ask about empowering services offered through your doctor's office or medical care center. Through these services you can take advantage of the nurturing benefits of patient support groups, patient counseling, and medical navigation services.

Talking to Your Family and Friends

The most important people in your life can help you build a comfort level with your treatment and healing, and even help you build confidence as you move through different phases of the process. You may find sharing your personal thoughts and feelings with them at this time can help you create the most positive, healthy, and happy life experience — both now and in the future — just as your relationship with each friend and family member has always influenced your life in positive ways.

At the same time, you should know that your personal cancer diagnosis can be as life-changing to your loved ones as it is to you. Talking about your prognosis, your treatment, and your needs with family and friends can help to alleviate both your fears and their own, and help keep everyone focused on achieving the same goals.