At any time, the person with cancer can ask the members of his or her health care team to sit down and explain the big picture or where things stand. One practical approach is to encourage the person with cancer to explain to the health care team his or her understanding of the current situation and the road ahead. This approach allows the patient to get a fuller picture of the situation by using his or her own words to describe where things stand. The members of the health care team can then correct any misunderstandings to make sure that the person with cancer and every member of his or her health care team are all on the same page.
Again, the person with cancer can request a “big picture” conversation at any time. However, there are certain decision points at which you, as a caregiver, may want to encourage such discussions:
• At diagnosis
• Before treatment begins
• After completion of radiation therapy
• After completion of chemotherapy
• Any time that the treatment has not been successful