Anne Willis, 25, is NCCS' director of survivorship programs and a 10-year survivor of Ewing's sarcoma, a rare malignancy that attacks the bone or soft tissue. She told conference attendees that when she first knew she would be undergoing chemotherapy, she "was too scared to ask the nurses what to expect. I never had any conversations with anybody, so I was absolutely terrified."
But, like many of those polled in the survey, Willis said she soon realized that her fears of chemotherapy were exaggerated. Her attitudes toward her health-care team changed, too. "I became much more of an active participant in my care," Willis said. "I never hesitated if I had a problem. One time I had a full-body rash that did not make me very popular, and I immediately told my doctor about it. We treated it and took care of the problem."
Too often, patients remain mum about their fears and the side effects that they do experience. Ellerbee said she was lucky, because her training as a journalist had taught her to ask questions.
"If you are living with cancer, talk to your doctors and other health professionals about these issues," she advised. "If you've got fears, tell them. If you have questions, ask them. Side effects -- tell them. Ask what they can do to help you."
The NCCS strongly advises that patients also get written "Treatment Plans" from their health-care team before they b
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