How do I make a decision about cancer treatments?

How do I make a decision about cancer treatments?

Making treatment decisions

Feel like you have suddenly lost all control over your life? Since your diagnosis, there have probably been lots of people – doctors, nurses, other medical staff, your parents and even the odd stranger – telling you what to do, when to do it and how to do it.

There will be times when it feels like you have to do what your medical team says whether you like it or not. But you can have control over some things, like when or where you to get the treatment.

Don’t be afraid to ask whether you have any options for when and where you get treated. You might be able to be treated closer to home. Or maybe you can delay the next round of chemo until after an exam or be allowed out of hospital for a special occasion like the school formal. Speak up! If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

Learning to speak up can be hard, but if it means you get to make decisions that are important to you, it’s really worth a try.

Or perhaps you’re happy to let your parent/s or carers make all the decisions about your care and treatment. That’s fine too.

But others may want to have a bigger say in what is happening. If you are over 18, you are recognised by the law and the hospitals as an adult and can have complete control over your treatment decisions.

If you are over 16 and your doctor believes you are mature enough to understand the nature and consequences of treatment decisions, you may be able to make medical decisions without consulting your parents.

Some parent/s or carers find it hard to let go. You might feel that they are having too much say when you don’t want them to. Your parent/s are probably worried about you and want to do what seems best. Try to be open with them about what you want. See the section on ‘Managing relationships’ for ways to handle this.  

Treatment and support especially for young people

Youth Cancer Services (YCS) provide specialised treatment and support tailored for young people with cancer aged 15-25.

Based in major hospitals in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, YCS work with more than 25 other hospitals and health services across Australia. 

You might be treated at a YCS in a hospital, or the YCS team can work with local doctors to plan and provide the best treatment and support for you, wherever you are.

To find out more about YCS, visit  

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