Make the Most of Your Doctor's Appointment: Tips for Cancer Patients

If you’re a cancer patient or survivor, you know that your treatment journey is filled with many doctor’s appointments. While these appointments can often feel overwhelming, there are certain things you can do to make the most of the time you have with your physician. We asked our Facebook followers to share their advice. Here are some of their responses:

  • Take someone who's close with you. - Steve
  • Write down all of your questions ahead of time. Also, great advice is to have someone with you. It's so overwhelming that it helps to have a loved one with you to tell you what you missed while you were "freaking out.” - Mary
  • Try not to do so much online research and self-diagnosis before talking to your oncologist, or even in general. If you have questions, definitely ask your NP or oncologist; they're your best source for info. I would also recommend not going alone. - Montaha
  • Have a little notebook to take notes. - Maureen

Here are some more tips that can help:

  • Keep a journal or log between appointments to record your symptoms, side effects, emotions and more. Prepare for your appointment by reading your journal, your notes from your last visit and any notes or records in your patient portal.
  • When making your list of questions ahead of time, leave space to write down the answers. Share your list with a spouse, caregiver or close friend to see if you forgot anything.
  • Bring someone with you who will be able to focus on recording notes and helping you ask all your questions.
  • Always bring a list of your prescriptions.
  • Cancer physicians want to make sure to give every patient the time and dedication they deserve, so you may have a wait time. Bring a book, tablet or coloring book to help you keep busy during your downtime.
  • Be honest. Don’t be afraid to communicate anything that is on your mind (physical, emotional or otherwise).
  • Don’t feel as if you can’t ask something – if a question is important to you, it’s important to ask.
  • Be your own advocate. Ask about support services, complementary therapies and anything else you may want to help with your journey.
  • Before the appointment ends, make sure you have a clear understanding of what the next steps are. If you are unsure, ask!

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