Take Charge

Who is the most important person on your cancer recovery team? Some people believe it is their surgeon. Others believe it is their oncologist. Some choose the medical or diagnostic technicians, others the nurses, and still others choose their spouse.

But the most important person on your cancer recovery team is you! You are the one who is ill. It is you who must work to get well again. You are the character of central importance. And you need to put yourself in charge.

Millions of cancer patients surrender leadership of their recovery program way too often and way too willingly. Elizabeth Smalley, a thirty-eight-year-old housewife, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her treatment was not progressing as expected, and the side effects depleted her. It all left Elizabeth understandably discouraged. Her doctor kept assuring her, “We’re doing all we can. Trust me.”

Following an especially difficult week, Elizabeth asked herself, “Do I accept the course of this treatment or do I try something new?” She called and made an appointment at a comprehensive cancer center that was a four-hour drive from her home. Doctors there recommended a different treatment program. Elizabeth took back that recommendation to her home doctor for implementation. “Personally taking charge was my turning point,” explained a healthy Elizabeth four years after her bold and assertive decision.

Survivors take charge. View yourself as the manager of a baseball team or whatever organizational analogy you like. This is your cancer recovery team. The team’s mission is to get you well again. You’ll want a strong staring pitcher; many times that is a nutritionist or an oncologist. And you’ll need many other team members: a catcher, infielder, outfielders. Equate these with specialists. You, the manager, choose the team that is on the field at any given moment.

Traditionally, consumers play a passive role in the health-care system, going along with virtually whatever doctors and allied health-care professionals recommend. We’re encouraged to consent. Is that why we are called “patients”? This passive attitude does not serve you well. Decide you will take charge now!

Excerpt from: Cancer: 50 Essential Things To Do, Copyright Greg Anderson