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At first, the information you learn about treatment options may seem overwhelming. You can ease some of this stress by asking your doctor how soon you need to decide on treatment, and gathering as much information as possible about your disease and its treatment. That way, you can discuss any questions or issues with your doctors, nurses, and loved ones.
To make it easier to remember what your doctor says, take notes during meetings or ask if you can record your conversations. It may also help to have a family member or friend with you to take part in the discussion, take notes, or just listen. You may find it helpful to make a list of your questions before seeing your doctor. Use these questions as a starting place:
What treatments do you think are best for me and why?
What treatments do you think are not for me and why?
What is the goal of this treatment? To cure the cancer? To control it and help me live longer?
What is the success rate of this treatment for my type and stage of pancreatic cancer?
How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer?
Can I take my other medicines during the treatment period?
What is the length of the treatment period?
How long will each treatment take?
Where do I have to go for the treatment?
Who will give me the treatment?
How will I pay for treatment?
Does someone need to go with me during treatments?
How will I feel after the treatment?
What side effects can I expect to have?
How long will side effects last?
Are there side effects that I need to call you about? How do I reach you?
What can I do to ease the side effects?
Will I be able to go to work and be around my family?
Should I change my diet? What foods can’t I eat?
Are there any clinical trials I should look into?
Are there support groups nearby that I can join?
Now is the time to be very honest with yourself about what side effects you can and cannot tolerate. Your first impulse may be to choose the treatment that removes or destroys your cancer at any cost. On the other hand, you might not want to accept any treatment because you believe it will cause undue suffering. However, the side effects of the treatment may be more or less bothersome than you thought. It is your doctor’s duty to tell you what those side effects might be before the treatment, but it’s up to you to think about them seriously and understand your options before making a decision.
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