First Steps: What to do at diagnosis of cancer
Knowledge is power. If you want to fight cancer and win, or, at the least, gain more time, however bad your condition, the best thing you can do is learn how to help yourself, in co-operation with your doctor. The strategies outlined here are complementary to mainstream cancer treatment, but essential if you wish to change your long-term prognosis. It is not sufficient treatment just to kill cancer cells.
If you are going to hospital for tests that you may suspect may lead to a diagnosis of cancer, we recommend:
- Do not go alone. Take a close friend or family member.
- Ask your friend or relative to bring a pen and pad, and be prepared to make notes at your consultation. In your state of shock and/or acute anxiety, you may not remember critical things the consultant says.
- Encourage your friend to ask questions on your behalf.
- Question everything you don’t understand.
- If it is possible and/or you can afford it, ask for a second opinion at a
different cancer centre, with a different oncologist. Approaches to
cancer treatment can vary considerably. Occasionally, there is a false
- Ensure you are seen by a specialist in your particular cancer, at a
cancer hospital or centre, not a general hospital.
- Do not rush thoughtlessly into treatment. You can usually take a week
or two at the least, to consider treatment options, unless you have a
surgical or other real emergency.
- Research as much as you can about your cancer, and new treatment for
it, or ask a friend or relative to do so. Air all your questions, findings,
options, with your doctor or specialist before coming to a final decision
on what is right for you.