Making your choices

Sometimes when you’re ill, it can feel like there are lots of people who want to help decide what’s best for you. Your family, doctor, nurses, social worker, or friends, teachers and relatives might all be involved.

It can be nice to know lots of people want to help you, and it’s fine if you want to leave them to it! But you might want to decide some things for yourself too.

What choices can I make?

Doctors and nurses are the experts on your health and treatment. Some decisions, like medical ones, will be up to them but there are still some choices you can be part of. For example, you might want to say when and where you want treatment, or that you wa\nt to go to a friend's party or school trip.

Everyone will try to do the right thing but if you don't agree or feel like you're being left out, talk to them. 

How can making choices help me?

Talking about what’s right for you can really help you feel more in control. You might really want to go to a friend's party or school trip but unless you talk about it with someone, you'll never know if it's ok to go or not. Cancer sucks but you can still have fun, still keep in touch with your friends and still be you.

Where do I start?

If you want to be involved in the talks that the doctors have with your parents or carers, try asking questions as early as you can. If you do that, the team at your hospital and family will get used to including you from the beginning.

If you're too tired, unwell or unsure about speaking up at the beginning of your treatment, don't worry. You can start asking questions whenever you like.

The best place to find out about your health or treatment is talking to your doctor. They can tell you about the medicines and treatments for your kind of cancer. If you've got lots of questions, write them down and give them to your doctor.

What can I ask about?

Just like before you were ill, you might not always get things exactly the way you would like! Some parts of your treatment simply have to happen at a certain time or in a certain order. But there are some other things that you could have a say in.

  • If you're not getting on well with a treatment, ask if there is a different option
  • If you think you might have to miss out on something you wanted to go to, like a football game or friend's party, ask that's ok

It may not be a problem at all. Sometimes your doctor or nurse might tell you that what you're asking for isn't safe. They may not be able to move things around because treatment needs to happen in a specific way. But you'll never know unless you ask!

Maybe you can all think of a half-way point that suits everyone. Everybody wants you to get well, and things will feel better if you're happy. So if you are wondering if you should say something, remember: there is no harm in asking.

Updated April 2018, next review due 2021.