Making your treatment decision
It can be difficult to make a decision about something that is very important. You may feel overwhelmed with all the information you've been given or may be influenced by relatives and friends.
It may help to think about how you approached big decisions in the past. Are you guided by your first impressions and instincts? Or do you usually need to think things through for a long time?
When you’ve thought about all the information you have, you may find it helpful to put it aside and try not to think about it for a couple of days. If you can, do something different to distract you from making the decision. If you need to decide fairly quickly, it may help to get a good night's sleep then make the decision the next day. Giving yourself a short break before making the decision may help you look at all the information with a fresh approach.
It’s important to do what is right for you and not what you think other people want you to do. It’s easy to be influenced by the opinions of others, especially when they are very close to you. But you are the one who will be having the treatment, and you need to be satisfied that you’ve made the right decision at the time.
If your relatives or friends think that you’re making the wrong decision, explain your reasons to them. They may be happy to accept your decision once they know your reasons, but they may also have important points that you haven’t considered.
To help you make your decision, you could write a list of the advantages and disadvantages (the pros and cons) of the treatment you’ve been offered.
Try to think about:
whether you need to stay in hospital
how often you’ll need to visit the hospital
the aim of the treatment
how successful the treatment is likely to be
the possible side effects
the effect on your family and social life
the effects on your work and finances.
These are just examples. What an advantage is to you, may not be to someone else.
It’s important to take time to make your decision. This will be hard if doctors want to start treatment soon. However, it’s important that you can think about the information you have and ask more questions if you need to.
To help you make your decision, you might find these five steps useful:
Some people find it very difficult to make a decision. You may feel that you want your specialist to make the decision for you. If you’re having trouble deciding, talk to your family and friends. They may be able to simplify things for you. You can also make an appointment to see your doctor or specialist nurse as they may be able to tell you what they would recommend.
How will you know if you've made the right choice?
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There is no right or wrong decision. People have different priorities, concerns and circumstances that will mean they make different choices.
The most important thing to remember is that the decision you make is the right one for you at the time. No one can say exactly what will happen in the future. It’s likely that there will always be some uncertainty.
You may find you change your mind over time. How you feel now may be different from how you felt a few weeks or months ago. It can also differ from how you may feel in the future.
As your situation changes, your choices may change too. Your healthcare team will support you and will respect the choices you make.
If the cancer comes back after having the treatment you chose, you shouldn’t blame yourself. It’s possible that the cancer would have come back if you had chosen the other treatment option. It’s important to remember that you made the right decision at the time for all the right reasons, using the information available to you.