If you are dealing with bladder cancer, you are not alone. Approximately 77,000 Americans will learn they have the disease this year. Facing the diagnosis can be hard. You and your loved ones may feel overwhelmed and upset. There are lots of resources to help you and your family get through it. Start with these proactive tips for managing bladder cancer and reaching survivorship: 1. Take some time and don’t rush. You don’t have to make treatment decisions immediately. You can take time to educate yourself and feel confident about your choices. Ask a close family member or friend to learn with you, attend your appointments, and be your advocate. Having another set of ears and point of view can be invaluable when you are under stress from a new diagnosis. 2. Do your research. Doctors find about half of new bladder cancers in very early stages, when the tumor is still confined to the lining of the bladder and highly treatable. Treatment usually consists of surgery with chemotherapy inside the bladder afterwards. But there are other treatments. Later-stage tumors come with a unique set of challenges and treatment options. Read and learn about your tumor stage and your choices for treatment. A trusted friend or loved one can help you in this area if you find it upsetting. 3. Find the right doctor. A urologist will likely lead your bladder cancer care team. These doctors provide both medical and surgical care of the urinary tract. But not all urologists have the same experience. You want a urologist who specializes in bladder cancer. Another name for this type of specialist is a urologic oncologist. Ask the doctor how many bladder cancer patients he or she has treated. Also, find out about the doctor’s success rate with the surgery or treatment you are considering. And make sure you feel comfortable working with the doctor. 4. Write down your questions. Preparing a list of questions before your appointment can help you remember everything you want to ask. Your goal is to gather enough information to help make an informed, confident treatment decision. So don’t hesitate to ask if it’s important to you. There is no question too small when you’re making such an important decision. Write down the doctor’s answers or record the conversation. This is where another person can really help. They can help you sort out the answers and may think of other questions to ask. 5. Keep your own records. Having all your personal information together can save you headaches in the future. Keep your own set of care records. This includes test results, appointment summaries, pathology reports, and treatment details. You can ask your doctor or facility for copies. Also, be sure to call your insurance company yourself to make sure you are following the coverage process. Add your explanation of benefits and other insurance communication to your records. 6. Get another opinion. A second opinion can give you additional options you hadn’t considered or it can reinforce your current decision. It can increase your confidence in your treatment so you aren’t left wondering if you made the right decision. A good doctor understands the value of a second opinion and should encourage you to get one. Some insurance companies even require them. Your doctor can refer you to another urologist to discuss your treatment options. If you’re still unsure, get a third opinion before you make your final decision. 7. Consider a clinical trial. A clinical trial is a research study that tests new cancer treatments in people. There are many potential benefits to enrolling in a clinical trial for cancer treatment. You may increase your treatment options or gain access to a bladder cancer treatment that is not otherwise available. You can also help others with bladder cancer in the future by advancing research. Talk with your doctor to find out if a clinical trial is right for you. 8. Keep your appointments. Make sure you keep all your appointments, including tests, treatments and follow-ups. Bladder cancer has a high rate of recurrence—about 50 to 80%. Bladder cancer survivors also have an increased risk of other second cancers. The risk of second cancer and bladder cancer recurrence means you will need lifelong follow-up and surveillance. Be diligent about your appointments. 9. Connect with others. Cancer support groups help people connect with others who have cancer or who have completed treatment. Cancer support groups offer safe places to express your feelings, hopes and fears with people who are also facing cancer. You can find support groups specific for bladder cancer to meet others who understand your journey. If this idea isn’t for you, try other activities that keep you connected with others socially. Try a book club, walking group, or other hobby group. 10. Get help if you need it. Dealing with cancer can lead to emotional difficulties. Sometimes, it can even cause depression. If you’re struggling in this area, find help. Your cancer care team can guide you, often through a counseling program. Cancer counseling helps people work through their feelings and emotions surrounding cancer and its treatment. It allows people to express their hopes and fears in healthy ways. It also gives them another perspective from outside their daily life. There are different levels of counseling, such as group and individual counseling, so work with your team to find the right fit.