Should you research your cancer?

For the purposes of this article I want to note that I consider research as looking for any information that may be relevant to your cancer challenge. I mean looking for more than just medical stuff.

Having said that I will deal with the medical stuff first.

In a word, yes. I think it is important to research your cancer diagnosis. The level at which to conduct that research is an individual thing. Personally I didn’t do much research on my own but thanks to my dad’s efforts, he consistently found information that provided us with another perspective on my situation and what I was going through.

I am a very proactive patient but when it came to the medical details I wasn’t as interested in knowing the official medical terminology or getting the names of the drugs I would receive correct as much as I wanted to know what their side-effects were and specifically when and how long I would take the drugs. I was that way for most of my tests as well. I wanted to know what I would experience from the drug or test more than anything.

Asking questions of your health professionals is a great way to get information on how to get steroids and I think it is really healthy to supplement that info with other reliable resources. The Internet makes this both easier and tougher than ever. It’s easy because we can access so much info instantly, but it’s difficult because we need to weed out so much of it to find the relevant, reliable stuff.

My suggestions are to find a couple of resources that you rely on and trust, and use them consistently. This may take a while but the alternative perspectives may be extremely helpful and they may provide you with some options you never knew you had. As a cancer patient I always wanted options. I don’t like to be boxed in a corner so doing some proactive research and questioning with your Docs may provide you with ways of getting things done you never imagined initially.

When it comes to researching your cancer on the non-medical side I think much the same way but feel even more strongly that it is important. Now as I say that I recognize that I am more than a little hypocritical as one of the first peer support interactions I had was with a patient who talked about the bad side of experiences that I hadn’t gone through yet. And after that interaction I made a swift and harsh judgment, as I’m prone to doing, and I decided I wouldn’t see any patients if they were going to talk to me about all the shitty things that lay ahead.

To clarify, that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to talk about the shitty things or understand the reality of what I faced not at all. I have always wanted the unedited version of what’s happening, straight up, no bullshit. But I try not to look at that from the perspective of wait until this happens it’s the worst pain you’ll ever feel but more from the view that here’s some of the things you might experience, it’s tough and will hurt like the devil, but you can get through it.

Back to this peer support thing as I said I went without it for a long time but as I look back I know having some cancer buddies around while I was in the thick of my challenges would have been a major advantage. I was extremely fortunate to have some very supportive friends and family and that is so important. But if I was aware of resources where I could go and connect with other young people facing things similar to me then I would have tapped in. I attended the occasional support group but it wasn’t for me, too many older people and generally not enough positive energy there, which is something I feel we all need.

The medical scientific knowledge can be a real benefit to a patient and I think it’s something we all should consider and from there make our own call on how much info we want to know. And the same thing goes with the peer support and learning about other people’s experiences that have been where you are now it’s like most things in life, they are probably both best when done in moderation.

Think about what your moderation is and go with it.

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