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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

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Newly Diagnosed With Cancer

Focus on getting the medical care you need. A patient navigator can help. Postpone major non-medical decisions until after treatment ends if possible.

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It is preferable to be treated by a doctor who specializes in your health condition. Think about what is important to you in determining the ideal doctor to provide medical care about your diagnosis

  • The more experienced a doctor is in your particular situation, the better.
  • Interview several specialists and pick the best one for you.

Learn how to maximize your limited time with a doctor.  

  • Check to see if your mobile phone includes recording, If not, consider buying an inexpensive recorder so you can record your sessions and replay them later when you can listen without distractions.
  • Locate a person to go with you to important doctor visits to help ask questions and listen. (Such a person is known as a patient advocate.) Sometimes emotions can impair your ability to hear everything that is said.
  • Buy a fax machine or other inexpensive mechanism which allows you to receive and send reports.
  • Start keeping a symptoms diary.
  • Write down a list of all your medications, including over the counter medications --and keep it up to date. (We provide an easy chart that allows you to store your list and print it whenever you need it. To see it, click here.).

If you are going into a hospital, look for one that has a good track record with the procedure you need as well as a low rate of infection. If your surgeon doesn't operate in the preferred hospital, consider getting another qualified surgeon. Learn how to maximize your time in a hospital while doing your part to minimize the possibility of medical error 

Start learning what you need to know about your health condition and what normally happens.

  • When you do research, always consider the reliability of the information as well as whether the information provider has a self interest.
  • Keep in mind that statistics only refer to groups of individuals historically and do not tell what will happen to you or any other individual. 
  • What happens to you will be unique to your specific set of circumstances. 
  • Even if the odds are a million to one, learn to approach your situation as if you are the one. 
  • Keep track of all questions that come up from your research, so you can ask your doctor about them.
  • If research tends to increase your stress levels, ask a family member or friend to do it and to tell you what you need to know.

Decide who you want to make medical decisions if the medical path isn't totally clear. You? The doctor? A family member or friend?

  • Medical decisions may not be as clear cut as you would like. There may be different medical treatments available. There may be gray areas. Medicine is a combination of science and art.
  • There is a growing body of evidence that patients who participate in the decision making process do better than people who don't.
  • If you have a family member or friend go with you to appointments with doctors, you will have someone you trust to with whom to discuss your options and needs.
  • Understand that decisions and recommendations may change as facts change.

Think about so called "alternative" therapies such as massage, visualization, psychological therapy, and aromatherapy as complementary to Western style medicine instead of "either/or."

When a treatment is suggested:

  • Ask:
    • Why the doctor recommends the particular treatment, and not the alternatives.
    • Whether there are any studies concerning the effectiveness of the recommended treatment. 
  • Get a second opinion.This practice has become so standard that doctors are not offended when patients ask for second opinions. Insurance companies generally pay for second and even third opinions. 
    • Ideally a second opinion should come from a doctor experienced with your condition who is not in any way related to the doctor who gave you the first opinion.
    • If you have difficulty getting the appointment with another doctor, ask your doctor's office to help.
    • If the two opinions differ, continue to get opinions and do research until you are comfortable making a decision. On the other hand, don't let a search for certainty provide a reason to put off making a difficult decision.


  • Expect to hear lots of advice and stories from friends. Keep in mind that this information is "anecdotal," rather than scientifically generated. It is frequently irrelevant to your own experience. If you don't want to hear what friends have to say, or want to limit the amount or kind of information they give you, let them know.
  • It is wise to postpone making big decisions that do not relate to your health care until you are calm emotionally and your thinking is clear. It is quite natural that your thinking is impacted by your diagnosis. You may not return to a more "normal" emotional state until after treatment ends. The treatment, or drugs you take during treatment, may have an affect on your thinking as well.

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