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30. Patient Empowerment

Empowered patients are a new breed. They become very educated about their disease and it shows in the level of discourse with their doctors. They build a network of family and friends to act as advocates and help navigate the healthcare system. If you are a cancer patient, and want to become more empowered, here are some tips.

Get Educated.
The Internet is an extraordinarily helpful educational tool. So use it. If you don’t know how, find someone to help. For starters try the websites mentioned in Chapter 33.

Build a Team.
Your Healthcare Team should include most of your doctors (which insures they are communicating with one another) as well as family and friends who serve as both advocate and, if needed, caregiver.

Get a Navigator.
Today there are professionals trained to navigate the healthcare system for cancer patients. They are more knowledgeable than most patients because this navigation is their full-time job.

Stay Confident.
"You have cancer" are terrifying words. But you cannot become paralyzed with fear. However you do it - with the help of counseling, family or your own inner strength - you must regain your composure and the ability to make confident and informed decisions about healthcare choices.