When you think you’re experiencing cancer symptoms, the first thing you need to do is consult your doctor in order to get a diagnosis. However, making that first visit can be stressful and emotionally taxing.
Your first doctor’s appointment should not be a cause of dread, because it will shed light on the true condition of your health. To make the most out of that visit, here are five things you can do.
1. Make a list of questions.
Prior to a doctor’s appointment, you may have a lot of questions in mind, but you can easily forget all of that when anxiety takes over the moment you step into the doctor’s office.
In order to get all the information you need, prepare a list of questions before the consultation so that all of your concerns will be discussed. This will help you better understand your condition, your chances of being diagnosed with cancer, and what treatment plans are available in case you have the disease.
Here are some questions that you can ask on your first doctor’s visit:
- What are my symptoms indicative of? Do they point to cancer?
- What tests do I need to undergo? How can I prepare for them?
- What is the cost of treatment?
- What are my risk factors to cancer?
If there are any unfamiliar words that may seem vague to you, don’t hesitate to clarify them with your doctor. Most of the time, doctors present an illustration so that patients can easily grasp medical terms or technical concepts.
2. Take down notes.
When consulting with your doctor, especially if it is for a suspected cancer case, a lot of information will be discussed and it may be hard for you to take it all in. This is where taking down notes will come in handy, and you can do that in several ways.
The easiest way is to record your discussion with your doctor. You can do this with the help of a tape recorder or your smart phone. Another way is to bring a notebook and pen for taking notes. You can ask someone to do it for you so that you can focus your full attention to what the doctor has to say.
Having a record of what’s discussed on your first appointment can give you something to refer to in case you need to clarify something later on.
3. Be ready to discuss your family’s health history.
During your first visit, part of your doctor’s assessment is looking at your family’s health history. Be ready to disclose information about any disease or condition that any of your family members have incurred. Likewise, bring along any medical records for your doctor’s reference.
4. Bring someone with you.
Ask a friend or loved one to accompany you during your first doctor’s appointment, so that you can feel more at ease. Having someone with you during this time can be a source of comfort and support. Aside from that, they can also help you take note of the doctor’s recommendation and advice.
5. Know when you can get your results.
Ask when your results will be released and how will it be discussed to you. Waiting can be tough, but you can use this period to prepare yourself and your loved ones. During this time, you can also do research on your own so that you can be more familiar with your condition and symptoms.
In Case of a Cancer Diagnosis
If your test results point to cancer, it’s normal to feel emotionally defeated and stressed out. But you shouldn’t dwell on those feelings for too long. What you need to do is take a proactive approach against your condition. You can begin with asking the right questions such as:
- What are my treatment options and their corresponding side effects?
- What are my chances of survival?
- Can I get a second opinion?
- Who will be part of my treatment team?
- Can I stay at home during treatment or do I need to be hospitalized?
A cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. Get as much information as you can so you can act accordingly, and retain a good quality of life despite the condition.