|The First Visit to a Specialist|
|Carolyn Vachani, RN, MSN, AOCN|
|Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania|
| Last Modified: March 2, 2007
When you go to see an oncology specialist, he or she will discuss at length your disease and the treatment options available to you. This can be overwhelming, but there are ways to make it feel more manageable. Many people find that once they leave the office they cannot remember what was said or at least not all that was said. It is a good idea to bring along a supportive friend or family member. You want someone who is a good listener, can take notes, be supportive and not try to influence your decisions. While you are trying to listen to the doctor, they can be taking notes to refer to later and they may be able to think of questions during the appointment that you may not have thought of. You may want to ask for permission to tape the conversation, particularly if you have a large family that will want to know everything that was said.
In preparation for the visit, you may want to read some information on your disease, if you already know what type of cancer you have. You will be better able to ask questions and understand the healthcare team if you have some basic knowledge about the disease. Visit OncoLink's cancer types menu to read about a particular type of cancer. Other good websites for basic information are the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. If you do not have access to the Internet, ask a friend or family member to print something from the Internet for you, visit your local library or call the American Cancer Society (800- ACS -2345). As you learn more about the disease, questions may come up. Make a list of these questions and bring them to your appointments, this holds true throughout treatment and follow-up. This way, you are sure not to get home and realize you forgot to ask about something that had been bugging you.
There are a few things to be sure to gather for your appointment: