Medical Practice

A Toolkit for Cancer Patients

Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy’s recently-diagnosed brain cancer has resulted in a flurry of coverage, not only of his personal situation, but of medically-related issues as well.

Among the most helpful is this article from CNN. Senator Kennedy is in a position to acquire the best medical care possible; most of the rest of us must rely on lesser resources. Reporter Elizabeth Cohen has provided a great blueprint for acquiring the best level of care possible.

Post-cancer diagnosis steps outlined in the CNN article include:

1. Get basic information about your cancer
2. Pick a doctor
3. Learn how to read your lab reports
4. Find alternative medicine for cancer
5. Find support groups
6. Find clinical trials
7. Figure out how to pay for all this

The article argues, quite wisely, I think, for following these steps in this order. It’s full of helpful links and well worth checking out.

Above all, every patient, whether a Kennedy or Jane or John Doe, must accept and remember that there is only one person capable of ensuring quality health care for him- or herself. That person is you, the patient. Illness is one of those times in life when knowledge really is power.