4 Ways to Be Your Own Health Advocate When Living With Cancer

Article written by guest author, Claire Wentz


Living with cancer comes with a host of worries, from ensuring that your health insurance will cover treatments to figuring out lifestyle changes that will help you feel good every day. When it comes to your health care, it’s important to learn how to be your own advocate as well as to find a close friend or family member who can help you stay on top of everything and offer support. Advocating for yourself means keeping up with your doctor appointments and the information exchanged there, learning all the details of your health insurance policy, managing medication, and learning as much as possible about your condition and diagnosis in order to make sure you’re receiving the best care. It can also be helpful to look for resources and support online; Teal Diva offers plenty of both to survivors and individuals who are currently living with a cancer diagnosis.


Here are a few ways you can advocate for yourself when it comes to your health:


Keep your health records organized

Staying organized is essential when you’re handling health issues, not only for your own benefit but for your health care provider’s. Even the most well-run doctor’s office can make mistakes or overlook things, so having proper documentation will give you peace of mind every time you have an appointment. Taking detailed notes at each visit, keeping track of prescriptions and treatments, and organizing invoices is a great way to help you stay focused on managing your health and reduce stress, which can in turn help boost your overall wellness. You can keep everything in one place and ensure that it’s neat and easy to navigate by creating a document that can also be accessed by your caregivers; look for a tool that allows you to insert pages to a PDF online for free so you can add to the doc each time you have new information.


Stay up-to-date with your health insurance


Getting organized with your paperwork and notes is essential, but it’s also important to stay up-to-date with your health insurance policy and keep any important communications with your provider in one easy-to-access place. When changes occur to medications or treatments, the last thing you want to face is dealing with the insurance company on what they’ll cover, but you can prevent any nasty surprises by staying informed on your policy and updating any changes to your care as soon as you know about them.


Get your loved ones involved


Handling important paperwork, managing appointments, and dealing with the physical and emotional toll of living with cancer can be overwhelming at times, which is why it’s important to get your loved ones involved if possible. Use a medical chart app that allows you to share records with someone you trust; talk to them about how you’re feeling, include them in your plans and health care needs, and ask for help with household chores and any other tasks that can be done by someone other than you. Sometimes, advocating for your health means learning when to take it easy and let another person take over.


Learn all you can


Your friends and loved ones can also help you learn more about your diagnosis, possible treatments, side effects, and options for medication. The more you know about your specific illness, the easier it will be for you to manage the symptoms from day to day. Not only that, it will help you feel a measure of control in a situation that often feels emotionally overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or to seek other opinions from specialists. When researching your specific condition, use information responsibly and always talk to your doctor about your findings before making any decisions.


Championing your own health and wellness can be daunting at first, but with a little support from friends, family members, and online communities, you can take charge of your treatment and start feeling better right away.


Ready to talk to someone who understands how you’re feeling? Fill out the contact form at the bottom of the page at Teal Diva.