Dr. Fisher comforting patient sitting in chair.

Resources for cancer patients

At Sharp, we understand that cancer may be one of the most difficult challenges you and your loved ones will face. We’re dedicated to helping ease the burden of a cancer diagnosis so you can focus on healing.

We believe that knowing what to expect and where to find assistance can be helpful throughout your cancer experience.

What to do after a cancer diagnosis

A complete cancer diagnosis will help determine the specific type of cancer you have and the best treatment. After your initial diagnosis, you may undergo follow-up imaging and other procedures.

Sometimes, it can take several days to complete and receive the results of imaging and biopsy tests. While this may be a difficult waiting period, it is essential for determining appropriate treatment options.

During this time, you may want to:

  • Write a list of questions for your care team. Bring your questions to appointments, along with something to take notes on.

  • Identify loved ones to be your support team who will accompany you to appointments, provide transportation, participate in child care and prepare meals, as needed.

  • Download and complete the patient record form. This form can be used to track and update your medications, symptoms and side effects. Bring a copy to each doctor visit to share with your care team.

  • Begin capturing your feelings and concerns. Many patients find journaling, art and similar activities to be helpful.

  • If you currently use tobacco, learn how stopping smoking can help improve your recovery and treatment outcomes.

Get to know your cancer care team

A team of experts will participate in your care. Your team members will vary depending on the type of cancer you have. Here are some of the medical experts commonly involved in cancer care:

  • Primary care physician (PCP) – Your PCP is the doctor who will usually provide an initial diagnosis. They also help manage referrals to specialists as needed.

  • Radiologist – These medical doctors specialize in diagnosis and treatment using imaging technology such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound.

  • Pathologist – A pathologist is often involved in the diagnosis of cancer and other illnesses through the examination of body fluids or tissues.

  • Surgeon – There are many types of surgeons. In oncology, surgeons perform procedures to remove tissue samples for diagnosis as well as cancerous tumors, tissues and organs.

  • Medical oncologist – These doctors help diagnose and treat people who have cancer using chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted immune therapies.

  • Radiation oncologist – This type of doctor specializes in radiation methods to treat cancer where it is located. They can also use radiation to help manage pain for people with advanced cancer.

  • Your care team at home – Choosing a support team of family members and friends and encouraging their involvement to accompany you to appointments, take notes, or simply hold your hand can reduce the emotional demands of cancer.

Find support services at Sharp

We offer a range of support services, most at no charge, that can help you and your loved ones cope with your cancer diagnosis, treatment and the many emotions and challenges you may face.

  • Informational classes and support groups – Online and in-person classes and support groups cover various aspects of care and coping through cancer treatment and survivorship. Topics include nutrition, caregiver support, sleep issues and stress management.

  • Patient navigator program – Specially trained patient navigators help people with many cancer types, from the time of diagnosis through treatment and survivorship.

  • Nutrition counseling – Registered dietitians specializing in oncology nutrition can provide personalized, evidence-based guidance to help you stay strong, avoid infections and manage side effects of cancer treatment.

  • Integrative therapies – Often used in combination with traditional cancer care, integrative therapies such as massage and acupuncture can help relieve anxiety and enhance wellness. Services are available at the Sewall Healthy Living Center at Sharp Coronado Hospital.

  • Social work counseling – One-on-one support, assistance with coping techniques, and counseling are available to help people with cancer regain a sense of well-being.

  • Clinical trials – The Sharp Center for Research offers access to the latest clinical trials with open trials for most tumor sites.

  • Exercise – The Sewall Healthy Living Center at Sharp Coronado Hospital offers a state-of-the-art gym, group fitness classes, body composition analysis and personal training.

  • Financial assistance – Qualifying patients may receive assistance with financial coordination and support if they receive care in a Sharp hospital.

  • Transportation – Assistance with transportation arrangements may be available for those undergoing treatment at Sharp.

  • Community resources – We can help connect you to a variety of resources available throughout San Diego County.

  • Genetic counseling – Our board-certified genetic counselors can discuss whether testing may help clarify your cancer risk or determine the likelihood of inherited cancer in your family. They can also provide screening recommendations and information that physicians may use to determine treatments.

  • "Chemo brain" and cognitive resources – Access services to better cope with the cognitive effects of cancer treatment, such as difficulties with memory, focus and multi-tasking.

  • Rehabilitation therapy – We provide occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech and language pathology for individuals experiencing problems related to cancer or the side effects of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Treatment is available for mobility issues, joint pain, balance problems, lymphedema and swallowing problems.

  • Advance care planning – Documenting your health care preferences and decisions helps ensure you receive care on your terms. Our experts can assist with the advance care planning process, including the completion of an advance health care directive and physician orders for the life-sustaining treatment (POLST).

Related links

Cancer treatment locations in San Diego

We offer cancer treatment across San Diego — from South Bay to East County to Kearny Mesa.

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