Be Your own Best Advocate

When you discover you have advanced cancer, there will be no better champion for your health than you and your caregivers. Much of your advocacy as a person living with advanced cancer may revolve around your health and the health care you receive. To get the best care possible, it is important to speak up for and support yourself. Below are some ways you can advocate for yourself with your health care team:

  • Learn as much as you can about your cancer, your health, and your treatment options.
  • Make a list of questions for your treatment team before each appointment.
  • Ensure that you have the best mode of contact for each treatment team member: email address, cell phone, portal access.
  • Ask questions about the medications you are taking, or new medications you may want to explore.
  • Ask your physician or nurse for an explanation anytime you do not understand something he or she says.
  • Take notes during, or immediately after your visit to help you remember important points when you get home. Invite a friend or family member to the visit who can take notes for you.
  • Discuss health issues with your provider that are on your mind, even if they do not seem like a big deal.
  • Ask for and keep copies of all your medical records such as lab results.
  • Learn which results are most important and track them consistently.
  • Get a second opinion about any important health issue.
  • Offer suggestions and feedback to your treatment team about ways to improve services for people with advanced cancer.