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Learning More About Cancer on Your Own

Cancer By Editorial Team , National Institute of Health / Jan 13, 2013
Learning More About Cancer on Your Own

Now you know something about cancer in general, how it is treated, and about side effects from treatment. You may want to know more about your family member's cancer-like what kind it is, its treatment, and what that means for all of you. If you want to know more, ask someone who can answer questions such as:

•    What kind of cancer is it?
•    Where is the cancer?
•    Will my family member get better?
•    What is the best kind of treatment for this type of cancer? Will more than one kind of treatment be used?
•    How do people feel when they receive this treatment? Does the treatment hurt?
•    How often is this treatment given? How long will the treatment last?
•    Does the treatment change how people look, feel, or act? If so, how?
•    How long do treatments last-a morning, a week? Can I visit?
•    Where are treatments given? What is it like? Can I come along?
•    What will happen to me during these treatments?
•    Can people receiving this treatment go back to school or work right away? Is it better for them to stay at home?
•    Can my family member eat the same foods as everyone else? If not, what special foods or diets are needed?
•    What can I do to help?

You may have questions of your own. Sometimes people who have a parent or brother or sister with cancer can visit the cancer treatment center instead of just imagining what it's like. You can see the building and equipment and meet the people who work there. Sometimes, you can meet other cancer patients.

If the hospital is too far away or has rules against your visiting, you could ask other people who have gone to the hospital to tell you what it's like. They can tell you about the people they know such as the doctors, nurses, social workers, and patients, and describe a typical day. They can bring home booklets, draw you pictures, and take photographs. This way they can share their experiences with you, and you can learn a little about the hospital.

Reading About Cancer

Reading about cancer also may be useful. If you decide to read about cancer, be sure that what you read is up-to-date. Cancer treatment is getting better so fast that information may be out of date in a few years.

And remember, just as you're an individual, so is the person in your family who has cancer. Your family's experiences may not be exactly like those you read about. If you read something or see something on TV or in the movies, do not assume that what happens to the cancer patient in the story will happen to the person in your family.

If you read something or see something on TV or in the movies that you don't understand or you want to talk about, you may want to share it with your parents or another adult you trust. Pick someone who knows you and what you are experiencing. Give them the book or article to read or tell them about what you saw. Sometimes, when you are worried, it is hard to concentrate on what you have seen or read. It may help to talk it over and share how you feel.


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