Your cancer treatment plan

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Find out what you can do to make treatment easier, manage your medications and side effects, and how to stay motivated.

Key points

  • Your health-care team will work with you to develop an effective treatment plan.
  • Your treatment plan will work best if you follow it completely and on schedule, attend all appointments, take medications as instructed and maintain your overall health as much as possible.
  • Stay motivated by surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people and setting achievable goals.
  • If you are having trouble sticking to your treatment plan, speak to your health-care team so that they can help you.

What can I do to make treatment easier to manage?

Cancer treatment can bring a lot of changes. There may be changes in how you spend your time, how you feel or look or changes in your relationships. There may even be changes in how you view life and your future.

This session will provide you with information on how to stay focused during treatment so that you are getting the most out of its effects, and so you have the best chance of beating cancer and getting on with your life.

How can I get the most out of my cancer treatment?

When you are diagnosed with cancer, you will get a treatment plan from your health-care team. You have an important role in helping make your treatment plan as successful as possible. You’ll get the most out of your cancer treatment plan if you follow it completely and on schedule. This means attending all of your appointments, following the instructions for your medications very carefully, and maintaining your overall health as much as possible.

Of course this is sometimes easier said than done. Life is complicated; treatment can be really challenging; and many teens have concerns about sticking to a treatment plan.

Here is a list of tips to help you stick to your treatment plan.

Managing medications

  • Keep a medication calendar. Fill in the days and times you need to take your medications. Remember to look at which medications need to be taken on an empty stomach and which need to be taken with food. Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to check over your calendar.
  • Set up reminders on your watch or cell phone. Or, time your medications with something you do at about the same time every day, like waking up for school, eating lunch, or brushing your teeth.

Managing side effects

  • Side effects can make it tough to stay motivated to stick with treatment, so talk to your health-care team about ways you can manage them. Don’t let worrying about side effects stop you from sticking with your cancer treatment.

Staying motivated - one of the most important parts of sticking to a treatment plan!

  • Try to surround yourself with positive people who support you to stay on track.
  • Set achievable goals such as taking all your medication on time for a full week. Then reward yourself when you achieve your goal.
  • If you're having difficulty, try asking yourself "What gets in the way of me following my treatment plan and how can I solve this problem?"

Managing thoughts and emotions

  • Sticking to a treatment plan can be difficult when you’re facing tough emotions (such as anger or fear), when you're feeling really down or when you’re experiencing negative thoughts. Talking to a counsellor such as a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist can really help. Check out the sections on managing stress and emotions, relaxation and distraction for suggestions on how to manage thoughts and emotions.

Gaining confidence to manage your health

  • You play a big part in ensuring your treatment plan is as effective as possible. Make sure your health-care team explains your role to you in detail, and ask them to write down instructions. Many teens find that they feel more confident in their ability to stick with their plan when they understand its benefits and how it works to treat their cancer.
  • If you are worrying about how well your treatment plan is working for you, talk to someone on your health-care team. They can help you with your concerns.

Asking for help

  • Sticking to a complicated treatment plan can be tough. Your health-care team understands that and can provide support. Talk to them alone or with your parents if you’re finding parts of your plan challenging. They may be able to help you find ways to make it a little easier. Some parts of your treatment schedule may be flexible and adjusted so that the timing works better for you. Being able to ask for help when you need it is a sign of maturity.
Last updated: September 3rd 2019