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Avoiding Cancer Treatment Mistakes

Updated on January 31, 2014

Cancer Smarts

There is an old saying that "nice guys finish last."   Sadly, when it comes to cancer care, the patient that is too nice, sometimes doesn't get the best care. This is something that I observed first hand, during my years as an oncology nurse.

Cancer is an aggressive disease. To get the best treatment, a patient sometimes has to forget slow southern charm. Decisions have to be made rather quickly. That is why the smart, informed, question asking patient will often get better care, then the nice guy that just goes along with whatever the doctor says.

In this hub, I would like to highlight some mistakes I have seen patients make. The wrong decision can make the difference between life or death.

Read All You Can

Know Your Disease

If you or someone in your family is diagnosed with cancer, the first thing you should do is to learn everything you can about your particular disease. It is depressing to learn that you have cancer. Many times patients are handed booklets about their disease, and they show no interest in them. Someone in the family should step in then, and read the information, go on the internet, and be the advocate.

Knowledge is very important. When the doctor comes in to discuss treatment options, someone in the family has to be informed. It is the only way to recognize if the treatment outlined is the current best treatment available.

Important Decisions

Choose your Doctor Wisely

A mistake that I have seen many times over the years, is that patients will choose their doctor based on how NICE they are. NICE patients want NICE, GOOD LOOKING Doctors.

Cancer in real life is not a television show. Sometimes the handsome, smiling, talkative doctor is not always the best CANCER Doctor. Patients love cheerful doctors that will sit down and talk about golf, football, kids, etc. This is CANCER though. The focus is to get the best treatment, not talk about football. I have seen doctors with terrible bedside manner, that actually know their stuff when it comes to curing the disease.

Do research on Oncologists in your general area. If you live in a small town, it may be better to go to a bigger town. Check the ratings and reviews for the doctors online.

The Best Treatment May Not Be At Home

When you start researching cancer treatment centers, you will find that often one hospital will specialize in one type of cancer.  There are hospitals throughout the USA that are well known for different types of cancer.  There are hospitals that are best with brain cancer, ones that are best with leukemia, etc.

Your local oncologist will know about these places.  Often patients will coordinate their care with both a local doctor, and a doctor in another state.

Finish What You Start

Once you have chosen your doctor, you will be given a plan of care. The doctor or oncology nurse will tell you about all the surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, etc. that will be needed to start fighting the disease. Once again, you need to do your homework. Read all you can about each of these procedures. If you are told specific drugs you will be given, look up each one and learn the side effects.

If you choose to start Chemotherapy, you will be given a strict schedule of treatment days, labs, and medications you need to take. Once treatment is started, a patient has to be religious following the schedule. This is why it is important to be aware of the side effects before treatment is started. It is much easier to tolerate something that is expected than something that is not.

As I said in the title it is important to finish what you start. If Chemotherapy is started, than delayed for a vacation, this allows the cancer to grow. It can grow faster than before chemo was started because the immune system is weakened by the chemotherapy that was started, but not finished.

Win Your Fight With Cancer


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    • susansisk profile image

      susansisk 3 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thank you. Nice to meet another Oncology nurse on Hubpages.

    • Marie Nichole profile image

      Marie Nichole 3 years ago from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

      Excellent input on some vital points patients need. As a fellow Heme/Onc nurse I say thank you! :)

    • susansisk profile image

      susansisk 4 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thank you for reading, Jackie.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This is a very good and important article. Thank you. ^

    • susansisk profile image

      susansisk 5 years ago from Georgia, USA

      It is sad too, that when they tally up cancer statistics, they don't reflect what is real. Someone might die from pneumonia that they got because their immune system was knocked down to nothing from chemo, and it won't count as a death from cancer or chemo. It will be pneumonia. It makes it look like our cancer cure rates are better than they are.

    • jimmar profile image

      jimmar 5 years ago from Michigan

      My Dad just passed. He had a malignant tumor. Before I knew it he was gone, not from the cancer but from the surgery. It wasn't the disease that killed him it was the GD doctors. You are so right about being informed. I would have tried to talk him out of having the operation if I knew more about it. As it was he only survived about 2 weeks after the surgery, he was feeling fine before it. Who knows how long he could have lasted without it, but I'm sure it would have been more than two weeks. Thanks for this article.