Sue Schroeder has written an article in the Grand Rapids Press on ‘How to detangle the mass of information when researching your cancer’. Schroder, former features editor for The Grand Rapids Press, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in late 2009.

She spoke to a cancer patient, Judy Herrick, a librarian, Brett Powers and a doctor, Thomas Gribbin. Using the information they gave, Schroeder has come up with a guide for cancer patients on how to educate themselves without getting confused and stressed out. The series of steps, from initial diagnosis, goes as follows:

Step 1: Know the stage of your cancer.
Know the specific type and subtype of cancer you have.

This is very important as treatment recommendations vary according to the stage you are at. Powers has had patients who cannot even spell their particular cancer or say things like it “sounds like hippopotamus.”

Dr. Gribbin, who is medical director of the Lacks Cancer Center, Michigan and has been an oncologist for 25 years, says he always writes down three key pieces of information on his research prescriptions:

• The stage
• The diagnosis from the pathology report
• The proposed treatment.

Step 2: Be Internet savvy.

Librarian Powers recommends checking two or more sources for any advice you may read. Although some websites differ in tone or language, if two are advocating the same thing on which course of action is best it is a good sign.

If you are interested in an , Powers and can help you research it. He works at the Warren Reynolds Library at the Lacks Cancer Center at Saint Mary’s, Michigan. Other librarians can also help you check current medical research and thinking by top oncology doctors.

You can read the last two steps of Schroeder’s advice here: Advice for cancer patients: How to navigate information overload (part II).

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