Making Treatment Decisions
One of the very most difficult parts of cancer can be making treatment decisions. Although we appreciate the evolution of doctor/patient relationships with much more mutual respect and shared responsibility, there were some advantages when we just did whatever the doctor told us to do. Certainly different people have different needs and styles; some want to learn as much information as possible and others only want to know what is necessary. Either way, there are times when tough choices must be made--and inevitably made during a period of high anxiety which surely makes anything harder.
This can start immediately after a breast cancer diagnosis when meeting with the surgeon. Even when told that a mastectomy is not required or proven to be better, many women wonder and wrestle with this choice--wide excision vs mastectomy vs even bilateral mastectomies. If a mastectomy is chosen, there are all the questions about reconstruction. And surgery does not end the questions: chemo? hormonal treatment? both?
This is an excellent piece from ASCO's Cancer Net about pondering decisions:
Making Decisions About Cancer Treatment
• It is important to talk with your health care team so you understand your diagnosis and the recommended treatment plan.
• Learning as much as you can about your options, including the goals of treatment and potential side effects, can help you make informed decisions and know what to expect.
• Talking with family members or trusted friends may help you feel more confident in your treatment decisions.
After a diagnosis of cancer, patients and their families have to make a number of decisions about cancer treatment, some of which are more difficult than others. These decisions are complicated by feelings of anxiety , unfamiliar words, statistics, and a sense of urgency. However, unless the situation is extremely urgent, it is important to allow time to research your options, ask
questions, and talk with family or a trusted friend.
Decisions about cancer treatment are personal, and you need to feel comfortable with your choices. But, many people don’t know where to start. Here are some simple, but important, steps you might want to take as you start the decision-making process.