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Laura Wilson Presentation: Are you Ready for your Meeting with your Oncologist?

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This webinar is the third of the Save Your Skin Foundation brand new webinar series called From Diagnosis to Survivorship.

In this webinar, Laura Wilson discusses the important factors to consider before meeting your oncologist so that you can ask the right questions to make informed decisions an be an active participant in your cancer care.

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Laura Wilson Presentation: Are you Ready for your Meeting with your Oncologist?

  1. 1. When first diagnosed, you may feel shock, anger, and frustration. ! ! Many people feel overwhelmed, making it difficult to clearly understand what doctors are saying – being ready with questions can help you to plan your next steps.!   INITIAL DIAGNOSIS!
  2. 2. When you first hear the word cancer , you may struggle to remember much else that your doctor said during that initial meeting. ! ! Your doctor will have likely explained the kind of cancer you have, using medical language that might not be familiar to you. Don t be afraid to ask questions about any terms you do not understand.!   WHAT TO EXPECT!
  3. 3. WHAT TO EXPECT! It also helps to bring a family member or friend along to doctors appointments to help you to remember what was said – they can be your eyes and ears. ! ! It is also helpful to take along a note pad and pen to write down what the doctor says to refer back to later when you ve had more time to process the information. Some doctors will allow you to record the meeting.! !
  4. 4. WHAT TO EXPECT! After your first diagnosis, you may need to find an oncologist – a doctor that specializes in cancer treatment. It may have been your family doctor or other healthcare provider that gave you your initial diagnosis.! ! Again, don t be afraid to ask questions and find out who your doctor recommends as an oncologist. Look online for oncologists in your area. It s important to choose an oncologist that you personally feel most comfortable with.!
  5. 5. Before your first appointment, prepare yourself with some basic information so that you can feel as ready as possible for your meeting. Make a note of the following:! ! •  What is the full name of the oncologist I will be seeing? ! ! •  How will the oncologist get my medical records? Will the referring physician send them, or do I need a copy to take to the first appointment? If I need a copy, how can I get it? ! ! •  How do I get to the oncology office? ! ! •  Where do I park, and how much will I have to pay for parking? ! ! •  How long will the first appointment take?!   PREPARING FOR YOUR ONCOLOGIST APPOINTMENT!
  6. 6. To your first appointment with your oncologist, you should also plan to bring a copy of your medical history as well as a list of medications you currently take. You should also include natural food supplements.! ! If you don t have a copy of your medical history, ask your current doctor/family doctor to provide you with your complete medical summary. They should also be able to forward these records to your oncologist.!   PREPARING FOR YOUR ONCOLOGIST APPOINTMENT! þ     Medical History Summary! þ  List of medications! þ  List of any supplements!
  7. 7. Before your first appointment, you may also want to ask yourself "How much do I want to know?" ! ! Having an idea of what is most important to you on your first visit can help you have a good conversation with your doctor.! 
 Write your questions down in your notepad and bring them to the appointment.     PREPARING FOR YOUR ONCOLOGIST APPOINTMENT!
  8. 8. Here is a list of suggested questions you may want to ask during your first visit:! ! •  How soon will I need to start treatment? Maybe you have a vacation, wedding, graduation, or other big event you want to go to before starting treatment, is it okay to wait? ! ! •  What number should I call if I have questions or concerns? ! •  What is the best time to call if I have concerns? Some doctors and nurses have a special time to return calls. Expect your doctor or his/her representative to call you back, but remember that a quick response may not be possible if another patient is having a crisis. And many times a nurse can answer your questions, too. !   QUESTIONS TO ASK!
  9. 9. Questions continued…! ! •  What stage is my melanoma? ! •  What is the recommended or standard treatment for my stage of melanoma? ! •  Are there other potential or alternative medical treatments or surgical options for me? ! •  Which treatment choice is best for me? Why? ! •  Do you have experience with other melanoma patients? ! QUESTIONS TO ASK!
  10. 10. Questions continued…! ! •  Will you personally be managing my care or is there a team of oncologists that will follow me? ! •  What are the risks and potential side effects? ! •  What are the chances the treatment will be successful? ! •  Will I have pain during or after treatment and how can it be controlled? ! •  What can I do to be ready for the treatment? Will the treatment affect my normal, daily activities and for how long? ! QUESTIONS TO ASK!
  11. 11. Questions continued…! ! •  What will my appointment schedule be during treatment and how often will I be seen after treatment to check for the possibility of a recurrence? ! •  What is my expected prognosis? ! •  Are there any treatments for my stage that are being studied? Would a clinical trial be right for me?  !         QUESTIONS TO ASK!
  12. 12. Questions continued…! ! •  Where do I call if I have an emergency? What about after office hours, on holidays, or on the weekend? ! •  Who else can get information about my condition? You may want your doctor to be able to talk with your spouse, family members, or loved ones about your diagnosis and treatment. Think about your choices and tell your doctor what you want. You will have to sign a form giving the doctor permission to talk to others. This is to protect your privacy. ! ! •  Is there another doctor who should be kept informed about your diagnosis? If you are being managed for another chronic health issue (i.e. diabetes, heart disease, etc.) it will be helpful for other doctors to be aware of your cancer diagnosis and treatment in the event one impacts the other.    !   QUESTIONS TO ASK!
  13. 13. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have. Be your own advocate.! ! If you don't get all of your questions answered at the first appointment, ask your doctor if you will be able to go over the rest at the next appointment, or if you can call later. ! ! If you feel like your doctor is waiting too long to do your surgery or start your radiation or chemo, ask him/her about this. Talk to your doctor about your concerns. Sometimes delays are necessary to get enough information about your overall health and the cancer in order to know which treatment is best for you. But it never hurts to ask – and it s important to make sure you are getting the treatment you need in a timely manner.!   QUESTIONS TO ASK!
  14. 14. Bring your notepad with you to your first and all other appointments. Keep track of your questions and answers and other information about your diagnosis and treatment plan.! ! Bring your melanoma patient diary with you if you find it helpful. This diary, and other patient resources can be downloaded off of the Save Your Skin Foundation website:! ! http://www.saveyourskin.ca/support-resources/downloadable- resources/!     QUESTIONS TO ASK!
  15. 15. Treatment for cancer is complex, and managing all of the different aspects of treatment can be stressful. There are different doctors to consult, many tests to schedule, and instructions relating to your care.! ! It s important to understand your diagnosis and any potential treatment options for your stage of cancer, not just the standard treatment. ! ! Before you undergo any treatment do your homework. Make sure that your questions are answered.! ! It can be helpful to talk with other people with melanoma who have had similar experiences. They may be able to give you some insight into what you can expect with treatment.!   HOW TO BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN YOUR CANCER CARE!
  16. 16. Take an active role in your care is being a self-advocate. It can be a positive experience, often giving people a sense of control in a time of uncertainty. ! ! Self-advocacy doesn't have to be time-consuming or difficult; it can be as simple as asking more questions at a doctor's appointment. ! ! Furthermore, being a self-advocate doesn't mean that you are responsible for your cancer care. In fact, it commonly involves seeking additional support from others, including friends, family members, and health care professionals.!   HOW TO BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN YOUR CANCER CARE!
  17. 17. Other tips for managing your care:! ! •  Ask your doctor for all details for your specialist appointments (i.e. location of appointment, number to call, name of doctor, etc.). This will help to you to make sure you get to appointments on time and make the most of your visits with doctors. ! ! •  Track medical bills and health insurance claims: Most people with cancer receive a large number of bills and health insurance claims, creating a cycle of paperwork that can be overwhelming. To reduce your stress and maintain financial health, it is important to develop a clear system for tracking payments and filing important documents. Ask to speak to a social worker.!   HOW TO BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN YOUR CANCER CARE!
  18. 18. Save Your Skin Foundation – Patient Guides and Patient Diary! http://www.saveyourskin.ca/support-resources/downloadable-resources/! ! Cancer.net – Managing Your Care! http://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/managing-your-care! ! ! LINKS TO ADDITIONAL PATIENT RESOURCES!

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