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We would all like to have control over our health and future. A diagnosis of cancer can cause you to feel fear, panic, uncertainty and despair, and you might feel that you’ve lost control of your life.
Cancer can take away our certainty that we know what’s going to happen to us. This loss of control can feel very threatening and frightening.
Learning about the cancer and its treatment can give you back some feeling of control by helping you know what to expect.
You can ask your doctor or nurse to tell you about your cancer and its treatment, or you can get information from some of the organisations listed our databse|.
Some people want to know as much as possible about their illness. This can help them explain things to their family and friends, and helps them during talks with their medical team.
Sometimes you may have a choice of treatments. In this situation it’s helpful to ask your doctor to explain all the benefits and disadvantages of each treatment so you can make the right choice for you. You may find our section about making treatment decisions| helpful.
For some people, having more information helps them feel involved in their care and more in control generally. Other people prefer not to know all the details of their illness and want to leave treatment decisions to their doctors. It’s best if you can explain how you feel to your healthcare team so that they know how much information to give you. Talking to your healthcare team about what you really think and feel will help them focus on the issues that are important to you. Then you’ll really benefit from conversations with your medical team.
You may sometimes find it difficult to get all the information you need from the doctors or nurses looking after you.
Your own healthcare team is in the best position to help you and answer your questions because they have the most information about your particular situation, your cancer and your general health. However, there are many other sources of support and information. It’s important to get information from a reliable source, which is up-to-date and relevant to your situation.
Many people still believe myths about cancer, for example, that cancer can never be cured. And some well-meaning people may want to tell you about awful experiences of cancer that aren’t relevant to your situation at all. If this happens to you, let the person know that you feel uncomfortable hearing about other people’s bad experiences and you’d rather get the information you need from the healthcare professionals.
You can get reliable information from our cancer support specialists| or from other support organisations. These organisations often provide a helpline, booklets and audio resources.
Content last reviewed: 1 July 2012
Next planned review: 2014
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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