December 03, 2023

Why I Never Say The Word ‘Internet’ to My Docs.


The Internet is brimming with unauthoritative, mis-information about cancer, its treatments, and cures.  Some shoddy information is easy to spot, such as a clinically unproven diet trends.  Other information, like an intelligent comment from an experienced chat room moderator, can be harder to vet. Given the crap-to-value ratio of online information, I understand why doctors often head for the door when they hear from a patient the words “I read online…”

Getting doctors to pay attention to you can be challenging, especially when you are a young adult cancer patient.  Even the kind and caring ones are busy.  That is why when I visit a doctor, I ask questions based on information I know they are going to take seriously.  This information is usually from a medical journal or a respected organization such as The National Cancer Institute.  When I present this information, I print a copy for my doctor, I highlight the source, and I say, “I found this information from The National Cancer Institute” or “I read this JAMA article”.  Never do I use the phrase “I read online.”

When you begin screening your own online medical research through the eyes of a doctor, you too are less likely to zap your energy reading empty-promise cancer cures.  There is nothing wrong with indulging in fluffy stuff as a good cancer distraction.  Just stick to fluffy stuff outside of the cancer world (my favorite is  Save your online cancer time for worthwhile information that can actually impact your care plan and increase your knowledge of your disease.

Read a simple step-by-step guide to doing online medical research in my book Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s.


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