A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, confusing and can raise multiple questions and concerns. Now what? Stress, anxiety, and fear can be paralyzing, hindering the ability to make rational/logical decisions. After all, nobody prepared you for this. Here are some suggestions we’ve gathered from thousands of Belongers, to help you be in the driver’s seat from the very beginning:
The first step is to regain control. Make a conscious decision to manage the disease rather than to be managed by it. Gather information, ask questions and learn as much as you can. Once you feel more in control, you can make more informed decisions and avoid making beginner mistakes.
You might want to consider taking a relative or a close friend with you to the meetings with your medical team. They can remind you what to ask, take notes, and request clarifications and explanations.
Choosing a doctor
When choosing a doctor, you might want to ask for recommendations. It is important to be comfortable with your doctor. Remember: “A good physician treats the disease, the great physician treats the patient with the disease” -Sir William Osler.
You might want to seek a second opinion from another doctor, especially to confirm a diagnosis and evaluate treatment options. Asking for a second opinion is a common practice.
You should organize your own folder/binder or digital file in Belong (Files). It can be shared with family members and should contain all the documents, test results, lab reports, and any other pertinent information.
Plan each appointment with the medical team beforehand, and prepare a list of questions and topics for discussion. Some questions to consider may include: what is the exact type, has it metastasized, what other tests are needed, treatment options, short and long-term side effects and more. Make sure you write down the answers.
After each meeting with the medical team, summarize the appointment’s details in your own words and add it to your folder for a follow-up.
Ask your medical team about joining a clinical trial. Participating in a study might give you access to treatment that’s not otherwise available. You can also ask the Clinical Trial Team at Belong.
Belong is closing the gap between patients and information that is relevant for them, at the right time, while reducing the level of loneliness. To find more information, clinical trials and all that was listed above download the Belong Beating Cancer app for free.