|Posted by Christine Dwyer on January 4, 2013 at 9:25 AM|
I wrote this piece a few days ago for the Facebook page but thought it would be good to share here, too.
Tips and Hints.
I realized it has been a while since anything has been posted about HOW to best handle the overload of information that comes at us when faced with any type of cancer diagnosis. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some thoughts, some tips and some helpful ideas .
The first and best piece of advice I can offer to you is to document everything!! I will break this down for you into sections just to make it a little easier to conquer!
That initial time when you hear those life altering words, “You have Cancer” is such a mind numbing thing. Nobody is ever really prepared to hear this and the shock just over takes the thought process. I don’t think it is even remotely possible to make sense of anything at this stage. I know when my own Mom was diagnosed things just became a complete blur and as hard as I tried to be calm, cool and collected, inside I was just drowning in emotions. This is all totally normal!
Once you have had time to process this news a bit you can begin to prepare for the next appointments. Begin by asking someone to go with you to this visit. It is so helpful to have two sets of ears!! Make a list of all of the questions you have, and yes you will have many! You can even make 2 copies and give one to the doctor to read over and work together on getting the answers. Do not be afraid to ask for clarification if you do not fully understand something. It’s even a good idea to ask the doctor if they would let you bring a small recorder to the appointments to record the conversation to review later on.
This next thing is very important and can be very, very helpful, especially for second opinions! Ask for and get copies of EVERY SINGLE TEST you have done, including the routine blood work, MRI scans, CT scans, PET scans, etc. I keep all of Mom’s notes and results in a 3 ring binder with dividers to keep things organized. I make notes between appointments of anything she complains of, any changes I see or hear and make sure to have those ready for the next visit. A lot of times these things turn out to be of no major concern but you just never know!
Be sure and keep an updated list of ALL medications, including vitamins, herbal supplements etc that are being taken. Keep it UPDATED with any changes in doses and/or medications. Include the chemo on this list! It’s really, really important to let the oncologist know about ANYTHING you take as there is always a chance that these things could have an adverse effect with the chemo!
I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is to document everything. And I do mean EVERYTHING. In the event you need to get another opinion you will have all of the test results, treatment plans, and past issues at your fingertips and you can a make copies to hand to the new physician to get them up to speed as well. This saves so much time!!
As overwhelming as a cancer diagnosis is, things DO settle into a routine and it DOES become easier to manage things.