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  • Melissa Teo Surgery

6 Ways to Navigate the Cancer Landscape

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Being diagnosed with cancer is a frightening experience. Most people feel lost and are unsure how to continue with their daily lives. However, we want to assure you that having a diagnosis with cancer does not mean that all hope is lost. There are ways to handle the cancer landscape and here are a few suggestions on how you can take ownership and be certain and purposeful in your next steps.

1. Ask Questions

When you are in doubt, what do you do? You ask! As laymen, we are not the most knowledgeable when it comes to medical matters. So, take time to think and come up with a list of questions that you would like to ask your doctor. Here are a few questions that you may wish to ask him or her:

  • Is the cancer localized, or has it spread?

  • What are the organs involved?

  • How does it affect my daily living?

  • Are there any dietary restrictions that I should follow?

  • Is there any exercise that I should or should not do?

  • What are the treatment options that I have at this juncture?

Your doctor should be able to advise you on the above and it would paint a clearer picture for you. Often times, our doctors use drawings while explaining which help many of our patients to understand their situation better. You may be unsure as to where or what certain parts of our body are (such as the gallbladder), so having a diagram for you to visualize while the doctor explains can aid you in your understanding.

With that, your doctor should also be advising you on the treatment options that you have at this juncture. While listening, you should ask if there are any doubts. You can ask questions such as:

  • Are there any side effects to this treatment?

  • What can I expect if I choose option A instead of option B?

2. Consider Your Options

Take some time to weigh the pros and cons before settling on your decision. You can even research online regarding other patients’ testimonies and experiences of the various options before coming to a decision. Of course, one thing to note is that not every patient who has shared their experiences are going to have the same exact condition – so take it with a pinch of salt and discuss it with your doctor, as he or she will be able to tell you about the relevancy of their experiences against yours.

3. Family and Social Support

Your journey with cancer should not be a solo battle. Having your loved ones there with you throughout the process will give you the support that you need. It may not be the easiest to break the news, but knowing that there are others who will be supporting you will help to lift your spirits and enable you to go on the next steps.

Do take the chance to have an open discussion with your family and friends about your diagnosis and your treatment plans.

Additionally, going for your consultations or treatment with your family or loved ones can help to provide both of you with peace of mind. While you will be comforted to have someone that you can rely on, your family and friends will also be more assured when they are involved in your treatment journey.

You may also be interested to join support groups. There are a few groups in Singapore – both virtual and physical, and it may help you as an avenue to share your experiences and gain support from other like-minded individuals.

4. Insurance Coverage and Finances

Treatment for cancer can be relatively costly. There may be surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy involved in your treatment plan and the recovery process may be long. Take the time to meet up with your financial advisor and check what is covered in the insurance plans that you have.

Different plans have varying coverage, and some may have deductibles and co-deductibles, while some covers the insured for the whole treatment.

Ensure to ask your financial consultant about your coverage for outpatient consultations, blood tests, and scans. Blood tests and scans may be frequently required throughout your treatment period so it would be helpful to find out what is covered, and what is not.

5. Work Out A Schedule

Take the time to work out a schedule for yourself, your accompanying companion (if any) and employer, as the treatment may last for several months. Work out your schedule in advance, and factor in possible unforeseen circumstances. If you anticipate yourself being unable to make it for an appointment, do let your doctors know beforehand in case it interferes with your treatment plan.

6. Keep A Record

Keep a record of when you started your treatment, when your subsequent treatment dates are, and what medication you are taking. They will be important when you are asked by another doctor in the future who may be unclear with your treatment, or if you intend to see another doctor for a different opinion. If a surgery is required as part of your treatment, your surgeon may also require the timing and type of medication you were under.

It is also helpful to keep a folder of all the scans and blood tests that you have done for easy reference. If you are claiming via insurance, receipts are important as they will be necessary for your company to process your claims.


While it is a tough and arduous journey, we hope that the suggestions have helped. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any further queries at

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