When you get the results of your biopsy and you are told you have cancer, it is very hard to contain your thoughts. As your mind is racing, you may stop listening to what is being said, making it hard to take the next step in the process. You will be given several appointments for doctors to see and test to take. All of this can be very overwhelming.
You need to take active role in your treatment. Ignorance is not bliss. The new trend in cancer treatment is what we call a multidisciplinary approach. All of the doctors who are potentially involved in your care see you at the time of diagnosis. They outline all of the available treatment options for you. By seeing all of these people before treatment begins, you are able to have an active role in deciding on what treatment is best for you and your particular circumstances and not rushed into a treatment that may work best for the doctors’ pocketbook or convenience. Gone are the days where you just go with the flow and do what you are told and have no say so in your treatment.
Here are the four things you should do to make sure you understand your diagnosis and have a say in what treatment you are getting.
- Take someone with you to all of your doctor’s appointments so you have someone else listening and taking notes for you.
- Have a consultation with a surgeon, a medical oncologist, a radiation oncologist, and a plastic surgeon before deciding on a treatment course.
- Ask questions if there are words and phrases you don’t understand. You should not leave a consultation confused.
- Complete all of the additional testing that is ordered as quickly as possible.
Make sure all of the doctors that you see are communicating with each other and are sharing results and information. If you don’t feel comfortable with any of your doctors, feel free to get a second opinion. Make sure your primary care doctor knows what is going on as well. One doctor, either the surgeon or the medical oncologist should be the head of the team and be in charge of coordinating your care with the other doctors. When your doctors work as a team, you get the best care.
Don’t let the fear of the cancer itself stop you from getting the information you need to make the appropriate treatment decisions. Start your journey with confidence.