What You Need to Know as a Cancer Caregiver

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Understanding the health care system

Going into a hospital, doctors’ office, or talking to a health insurance company can be scary and stressful. The people may seem to speak a different language, everyone may seem rushed, and you and the patient may feel overwhelmed. This is normal. It takes time to get to know your doctor and feel comfortable with him or her. It also takes time to get to know how the health care system works.

The patient is an important partner in their own health care, and so is the caregiver. You have a right to be treated with respect. Each health expert who sees the patient should listen to your concerns and spend enough time with you to answer your questions.

As you probably already know, not all health professionals are skilled in talking with patients and families. Many forget that the terms, procedures, and machines that they use every day are new and possibly frightening to others.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And then don’t give up until you get and understand the answer.

It helps to know about and keep lists of the different health professionals you may meet. You can learn more about this in our document called Health Professionals Associated With Cancer Care.

Last Medical Review: 03/05/2014
Last Revised: 04/28/2014