Like shopping for any service or product, a key to good health care is being an informed self-advocate.
Being a wise health consumer also means knowing you are worthy of exploring options and of taking responsibility for your good health.
For individuals experiencing cancer, being a self-advocate can be a positive experience, providing a sense of control in a time of uncertainty.
Self-advocacy can be as simple as asking more questions at a medical appointment. And, being a self-advocate doesn't mean that you alone are responsible.
Seeking wisdom from others, including friends, family members, health care professionals and national advocacy organizations is an important part of self care.
According to the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, their “Survivors' Bill of Rights” calls attention to survivor needs, enhances the quality of care and empowers cancer survivors.
For example, in their personal lives survivors, like other Americans, have the right to the pursuit of happiness. This means they have the right to:
- Talk with their families and friends about their cancer experience if they wish but also to refuse to discuss it if that is their choice, and not to be expected to be more upbeat or less blue than anyone else
- Be free of the stigma of cancer as a "dread disease" in all social relations, wherever they may take place—from home to work to marketplace
- Be free of blame for having the disease and of guilt for having survived it
- Aspire to jobs worthy of their skills and for which they are trained and experienced
- Participate in support groups and educational forums as they wish. In such settings they usually feel less isolated, more informed, and more able to express their feelings, be they feelings of hope or of despair