With this we enter into an agreement stipulating that we must do everything together to succeed. What can we do beyond therapy towards the successful recovery? We asked Professor Dr. Magdolna Dank, oncologist It is widely believed that diseases, especially chronic ones are the greatest masters in life and they also play a huge role in learning self-awareness. How to change our lifestyle towards our recovery? Patients must take very good care of themselves primarily to be able to support their families. One of my patients told me a nice metaphor for this. During the safety demonstration on aircrafts it is instructed that in case oxygen masks are dropped down, one should first secure their own mask before helping others. This instruction made her realize that if he has the power and the ability to be in balance then he can also support his family. I believe it’s a very nice metaphor – it is worth to think about it. Everyone must find something that they like doing and helps them find their inner selves. They must dig deep in their memories to find what they would have liked to do in their younger age, what they are interested in, and they should try to start doing these activities. This can be something quite extreme like taking up a new sport. We know that people can start doing sports even at the age of 80. Others may turn to arts, listening to music. It can also be switching to a new genre when listening to music while driving. Some people learn a new language, for example Italian because it has so nice intonation. How to educate patients? It’s very important to understand how well-informed people are and what their needs are in terms of receiving further information. It may sound simple, but patients should be asked how detailed information they would like to hear. Some say – quite surprisingly – that they are willing to do everything, but they don’t want to know what will happen to them, while others only agree to start the treatment if they receive a detailed written description on all the possible side-effects. It is not up to me to decide what’s the best approach – disclosing information to patients should always be tailored according to individual needs. It is obvious that frequently occurring side-effects should be discussed as they are expected to occur. There are useful patient information leaflets describing the mechanism of action and the frequent side-effects of a drug in layman’s terms. These also give suggestions to patients what to do to avoid or at least ameliorate those side-effects. Patients should be informed on how they should prepare their meals, which ingredients they should use, what they can do in the now. It is crucial to educate them on when they should go to the emergency department or to the hospital where they have been receiving their treatment. There are also side-effects that are esthetic in nature so patients should be aware of them, too. For example, if somebody is in the spotlight all the time, then it’s obvious they cannot show up with stripes or lines on the fingernails. We can, however, ease their anxiety by saying that a simple nail polish would make this side effect invisible. Wearing a wig can mean an enormous psychological burden, therefore it’s important to talk about it and help in choosing the appropriate one. We must also teach people how to look in the mirror after one of their body parts is surgically removed. Thus, the discussion on side-effects must be individualized, which is very difficult. Moreover, side-effects can only be managed if the patient also takes his share in the work. It is worth involving family members, too, to share the responsibility with them. The side-effects can be managed most efficiently if family members are aware of what’s going to happen to the patient, and they are actively involved in the process. Where to find detailed information? We should also advise on useful websites and draw their attention to valid information available online. Patients should also have the need to access accurate information. Patients should ask their physicians, and physicians should tell proactively to their patients, what civil organizations and fellow sufferers can be contacted for information. In many cases the information shared by someone who’s already had a similar experience is more authentic. In the breast cancer patient organization operating in our clinic I can see that women being in different stages of the disease and the treatment share their experience with those who just start. How to prepare before visiting the oncologist? The oncologist must also prepare for the next visit with a well-informed patient, because they have a common goal. An educated patient motivates the physician to give more and more. It is therefore advised to make a list of all relevant questions between two visits, instead of asking just a few ones on the spot, at the current visit. However, patients should also be taught to select the important questions to ask. And then slowly and gradually the doctor and the patient become a team, building up trust with each other, knowing that they both will do everything to succeed. The patient and the physician enter into an agreement stipulating that they must do everything together to succeed. And yes, they succeed quite often, which is the beauty of the game; we can really cure patients with cancer today. Data published here are for informative purposes only, they don’t substitute medical check-ups. If you need further information, please turn to your treating physician. This video was sponsored by Roche Hungary Ltd.