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Colorectal Cancer: Managing Your Medical Care: Diagnosis to Treatment: Stage IV

Tools That Will Make The Process Easier

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The cancer journey can be a long and confusing one. Being organized and putting things in order will save you time and frustration - and possibly money. The more organized you are today, the less you will have to when you may not be feeling as well.

Getting Organized

  • Create or obtain a medical binder where you can store your medical records and other health related information. Keeping your own record can speed up the medical process – particularly when you see a new doctor or if you want a second opinion quickly. (See "To Learn More.")
  • Determine where the safest place is to store copies of health insurance correspondence, medical records, and any other paperwork relating to your diagnosis and treatment. Think about the best place to store your copy of your health insurance correspondence. While you are at it, be sure your important papers are stored in the correct place. (We tell you how in "To Learn More.")
  • Create a List of Instructions that tells people how to keep your affairs going if you can’t take care of them for a while. It will also make life a lot easier for you to have everything you need to remember in one place.
  • If needed, Survivorship A to Z provides information about how to get organized. See "To Learn More." 

Get access to the Internet

The internet has become an important tool for people dealing with the colorectal experience.

  • The internet provides easy access to most doctors (more and more doctors are communicating with patients by e-mail).
  • The internet provides a means of obtaining support, both through online support groups and to connect people in a similar situation one-on-one.
  • Specific information on your health condition, treatment and side effect information is available on the internet. 
  • If you cannot afford to buy a computer:
    • Perhaps a family or friend will give you access when needed.
    • Many treatment faclities and libraries provide free access to the internet.
    • Computers can be rented, or you can pay for usage at an Internet Cafe.
  • When you research online, keep in mind that a lot of web sites do not have correct information or the information is biased in favor of the owner of the site. See Survivorship A to Z information about how to do medical research on the internet for more information. See "To Learn More." 


  • An inexpensive recorder so you can record sessions with your doctor and replay them later. (Be sure to get the doctor's consent before recording any session). NOTE: Before buying, check your mobile phone. It may have recording capabilities.
  • A fax machine or other inexpensive mechanism which allows you to receive and send medical and other reports.

NOTE: Carry with you at all times:

  • list of the medications you take (and recently took) and keep it with you at ALL times. You never know when it may come in handy, such as in an emergency or when going to a new doctor. (We provide a tool to help you keep track that you can print as needed. See “To Learn More.”
  • A summary of your medical history (including current lab results). If for no other reason, it will save you a lot of time when you see a new doctor. You can just give him or her a copy of the document.
  • The name and contact information for your primary doctor and any doctor you see often.
  • If you do not want to be resuscitated if your heart or lungs stop working, keep a copy of a DNR with you as well.

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