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Colorectal Cancer: Managing Your Medical Care: Once A Treatment Decision Is Made

Think Through Your Personal Needs

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Medical Needs

If you are going to undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation:

  • It will help ease the anxiety if you ask a close friend or relative to accompany you to at least the first few treatments.
  • Family members and friends can also do research for you when necessary. Just be sure they only research reliable sources. Survivorship A to Z documents in "To Learn More" explain how to do that - and to avoid phony information.
  • If you are going to have surgery: It helps ease anxiety if you ask a close friend or relative to accompany you to the facility where the surgery will take place.
  • If you are going to have radiation: It helps if you ask a relative or close friend to accompany you to the first treatment.

Learn how to communicate most effectively with doctors, how to get over bumps in the relationship and when to fire them if necessary. See the documents in “To Learn More.”

Ask one of your doctors who the other medical professionals are that you are likely to run into and what each one does. The knowledge will give you a better understanding of how each person can be beneficial to you and who to ask which questions. (If in doubt about who to ask a particular question , ask everyone who would seemingly know the answer until you get your question answered).


  • Start focusing on the half full side of the glass with realistic optimism. There is always a reason to have hope. For information about how to stay on the positive side, click here
  • Learn how to cope with waiting for tests, test results and procedures, including how to cope with anxiety or depression. Click here.
  • For information about emotions that may appear and how to deal with them, click here.


If you will undergo chemotherapy or radiation, it may be difficult to eat or to feel well enough to prepare foods.

  • Start identifying nutritious snacks that you like. Buy a supply.
  • Store foods that you are likely to eat.
  • Cook and freeze meals ahead of time.
  • Ask family or friends to cook for you.


If you have difficulty sleeping, there are methods to consider that help. Your doctor can also prescribe medication aides. For more information, click here.

Get organized

Start figuring out how to minimize the impact of treatment and your health condition on your daily life. For instance:

  • Start keeping your own copy of your medical records in a notebook, hard file or online file in a secure place such as Microsoft’s Health Vault offsite link.  One of the advantages to keeping your own record, and an up-to-date summary, is that you can save time each time you see a new doctor.  Keep a record of all medications including over the counter medicines.
  • Get your important papers organized - especially health insurance information. This way you won't have to waste time looking for things when you may not be feeling well. For easy-to-use tips, click here
  • A 3-ring binder divided into sections may be helpful, you can include a monthly calendar in the front to keep track of appointments.


Your personal and other needs

  • During and after treatment you are not likely to be able to do everything you do now. Start lining up people now to do chores or activities you may not be able to do during and after treatment.
  • When friends or family ask what they can do to help give them specific jobs, like laundry, walk the dog, rake the leaves that way they will know exactly what you need.

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