Taking control of your situation

We would all like to have control over our health, and our future. Being told that you have a serious illness can make you feel fear, panic, uncertainty and despair, and you might feel that you have lost control of your life. A serious illness can take away our certainty that we know what is going to happen to us. This loss of control can feel very threatening and frightening.

Getting information

Finding out about your illness and treatment for it can help to give you back some feeling of control and can help you to feel more confident about the future. You can ask your doctor or nurse to tell you about your illness and its treatment.

Some people want to know everything possible about their illness. This can help them to explain things to their family and friends. This understanding increases their confidence and can also help them during talks with their doctor. Sometimes there may be a choice of treatments. In that situation it is helpful to get your doctor to explain all the benefits and disadvantages of each treatment so that you can make the choice that is right for you. With more information, some people feel more involved in their care and more in control generally.

Some people prefer not to know all the details of their illness and want to leave all treatment decisions to their doctors. If this is how you feel, you can just explain this to your healthcare team.

If you talk about what you really think and feel with your healthcare team, this can help them to focus on the issues that are important to you. Then you will really benefit from conversations with your medical team.

Reliable sources of information

You may find it difficult to get all the information that you need from your doctor or the nurses looking after you. Your own healthcare team is in the best position to help you and answer your questions, because they have the most information about your situation, your illness and your general health. However, whilst there are other sources of support and information it's important to get information from a reliable source. Some well-meaning people may want to tell you about awful experiences of your illness that are not relevant to your situation at all. If this happens to you, let the person know that you feel uncomfortable hearing about other people’s bad experiences and you’d rather get the information you need from healthcare professionals.

Condition-specific information

Further information on conditions that may be affecting you or those around you:

Support Groups

Visit the NHS inform Support Services Directory to search for local organisations that may help with the issues you are facing:

Last updated: 19 February 2015

This content was supplied by Macmillan Cancer Support.