Managing Your Treatment
Living with cancer or caring for someone with cancer can be a full-time job. New medical terminology, sifting through treatment options and making medical decisions is often overwhelming. Just keeping track of medications, appointments and medical bills can be daunting.
Here are some tips to reduce stress and help navigate the disease process more effectively.
- Use a calendar to record your appointments, weight changes and medical symptoms. Bring the calendar to your appointments to review medical changes and symptoms since your last visit. This will help you and your doctor maintain an accurate account of developments in your condition. For more information, see Using a Medical Calendar and Symptom Log.
- Learn the functions of people in your doctor's office and, if appropriate, get their contact information so you can reach them easily when necessary.
- If you have questions about a medication or potential drug interaction, consider calling your pharmacist. The clinical pharmacists at UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center are Betsy Althaus, Monica Lee and Bob Ignoffo. If you are a patient at the cancer center and would like to review your medications with them, please call to make an appointment at (415) 353-7053. Bring your medications to the Infusion Pharmacy Services Center on the fifth floor of the cancer center.
- If you are seeing a number of doctors, consider a "brown bag check." Bring all your medications to your doctor's office or the Infusion Pharmacy Services Center on fifth floor of the cancer center and review them to ensure they are all compatible.
- If you take a large number of pills, make a list of your prescription and non-prescription drugs. Keep this list on hand to help keep to your treatment plan and record any changes.
- Funnel your prescriptions through one pharmacy. This allows the pharmacist to review all the medications you are taking for their compatibility.
- Buy a container to hold all of your medications for a full week or more. Organizing your medications in advance saves time and reduces the likelihood of taking the wrong kind or quantity of pills.
- If possible, bring someone with you to your appointments, particularly when you will digest large amounts of information and make important decisions about treatments. You also could tape record your appointment to review later. Tape recorders are available for loan at the UCSF Cancer Resource Center.
For additional information or resources, please visit:
Cancer Resource Center
1600 Divisadero St., First Floor
San Francisco, CA 94115
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
Self-Care for Caregivers
Caregiver fatigue can be brought on by the physical and emotional demands of caring for a loved one with a serious illness. Learn tips to combat caregiver fatigue here.
Communicating with Your Doctor
The relationship with a doctor is a very personal one, built on communication and trust. In choosing a doctor, the "chemistry" between the two of you must work.
Coping with Chemotherapy
Each person experiences side effects from chemotherapy differently, and different chemotherapy drugs cause different side effects. Learn more here.
Delegation to Help with Fatigue
Fatigue caused by cancer treatment can make it difficult to accomplish even the smallest of tasks. Learn how task delegation can help with this fatigue.
Evaluating Health Information
Health information can be extremely useful, empowering us to make important health decisions. However, it also can be confusing and overwhelming. Learn more.
FAQ: Cancer Pathology Tissue Slides
Find frequently asked questions regarding cancer pathology tissue slides, such as how to obtain the slides and what to do with them once you do.
FAQ: Cancer Radiology Scans and Reports
Learn the difference between a radiology report and radiology films or scans as well as why your doctor may be requesting these scans and more.
Hospice, which now exists in every state, provides home care and support for terminally ill patients. Learn more about the criteria and costs here.
Nutrition and Coping with Cancer Symptoms
Side effects of cancer treatment may affect your eating pattern, requiring new ways to get the calories, protein and nutrients that you need. Learn more.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
Your time with the doctor is limited, thus it's helpful to prepare for the visit in advance by prioritizing the questions that are important to you. Learn more.
Resources for End of Life
The UCSF Cancer Resource Center has a list of bereavement support groups, counselors, hospice and others dealing with end-of-life issues. Learn more.
Tips for Conserving Your Energy
Cancer and cancer therapy can be accompanied by feelings of extreme fatigue. To help you deal with this fatigue, follow these easy tips help conserve energy.
Using a Medical Calendar and Symptom Log
Take time at the end of each day or each week to reflect back on the symptoms you've had. You can use a calendar to track your symptoms. Learn more here.