Youth Cancer

Getting the Right Information About Your Cancer

Being kept in the dark can make you freak out. You have a right to know what is happening to your body.
  • Having the correct information is an important way to help you cope with what's going on. It can also give you a sense of control when everything else seems out of control.
  • Some people like to know every little detail, while others just want the key facts.
  • Whatever you choose is okay. How much and what you want to know may change over time.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What kind of cancer do I have? (in plain English please!)
  • What part of my body does it affect?
  • How do you know I have cancer?
  • What tests are you going to do?
  • Is this cancer going to be painful?
  • What kind of treatment will I have? Where can I find extra info about it?
  • Will the treatment be painful?
  • Does the treatment have side effects?
  • How long does the treatment take?
  • Will I have to go to hospital? And if I do, for how long?
  • Will it change the way I look, feel or act?
  • What happens if I don’t have the treatment?
  • What about school, work and the rest of my life?
  • How will we know if the treatment is working?
  • What will happen if the treatment doesn’t work?
  • Is there anything special I should be doing, eating, reading etc.?
  • Have you ever treated someone with my cancer before?
  • How many have you treated?
  • What age were they?
  • When you talk to my parents, will you include me in the conversation? Will I be able to talk to you with my parents out of the room?
  • Will you always tell me the truth about what is going on?
  • No offence – but can I get another opinion if I feel unsure?
  • Is there any new research or clinical trials for my type of cancer?


Information overload

Being stressed, upset or scared makes it hard to remember a lot of the stuff that you get told.

These tips may help:
  • Write your questions down.
  • Write the answers down.
  • Ask people to repeat things if you don’t get it the first time (or the second or tenth time).
  • Pictures and diagrams can help – don’t be scared to ask people to use these.

Remember:
you may need to remind people to talk in plain English, not medical language.