We've offered a few tips here to help you start thinking like an e-patient.
The e-patient movement is not only helping to empower patients to be more active partners in their care, but offering
them emotional support as they connect with other patients who have similar experiences.
-- Alexandra Sarkozy, Patient Education Resource Center librarian
Connect with resources to help you become an engaged patient.
1. Assume responsibility.
Think about the last car you bought. You didn't hand that decision over to the salesman, did you? Only you know
what medical choices are right for you. It's up to you to get the information you need so that you can get the
care you need.
2. Communicate with your health care team.
Your doctor may be the expert on treating cancer, but you're the expert on how you feel. Speak up
and be honest if things aren't feeling right. Become comfortable with asking questions. Consider taking notes
so you can go over them again later.
3. Don't be afraid to ask for second opinions.
All too often, people are worried about offending their doctors. Don't be. This is a routine part
of medical care, and you have every right to get the information you need before making a medical decision.
4. Educate yourself.
Learning about your condition can help you have better discussions with your doctors. Sifting through the vast amount of
information online can be difficult -- particularly since some online information isn't credible -- so consider visiting
the Cancer Center's Patient Education Resource Center
. The staff can help you
find the information you need.
5. Learn about clinical trials.
Participating in a research study may be the right choice for some people with cancer. The U-M Cancer Center offers
many opportunities. Talk to your doctor or visit UMClinicalStudies.org/cancer
to find out more
Patients often learn from other patients. Consider joining an online support group or forum, such as those hosted by the
Association of Cancer Online Resources
, to glean information from others with similar experiences. Keep in mind
that every person is not the same, though, and that any recommendations should be vetted by your health-care team before you pursue them.
7. Be prepared.
Make lists of questions before your appointments. If you read about a particular study that you think is relevant to your care, print it out
and bring it with you.
8. Keep a patient tool kit.
Keep all medical records and notes in a single, organized folder. The U-M Cancer Center provides every new patient
with a filing box that features helpful information for navigating your care. In addition, consider keeping a diary to track how you are feeling.
9. Find your inner mama lion.
Many of the best patient advocates are mothers. They will find a way to do what needs to be done for their children.
Adopt a similar attitude about your own care.
10. Enlist help.
As much as you may want to be your own advocate, it can be difficult -- particularly if you're just not feeling up to it. Ask a
trusted family member or friend to attend appointments with you and help you fill this role.
back to top