Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: September 6, 2013
A new diagnosis of cancer brings out a lot of emotions; all at a time when decisions need to be made that can affect the rest of your life. It is important for the patient to become an active member of his or her healthcare team. This guide has been developed to give you suggestions on ways to make this time easier and to help you make the best decisions. It is divided into sections that mirror the typical path a person with a new diagnosis might take. Not all sections will apply to you, so use those that fit your situation.
What can I do BEFORE my first appointment with the oncologist? It can be several days or weeks until you meet with a specialist to learn more about your diagnosis and this time can be filled with anxiety and fear.
Finding an Oncologist: Finding the right doctor is not as simple as one would think. Here are some tips to assembling the right team for you.
Questions to Ask My Doctor: This is your care, so be prepared to ask the questions that will help you make decisions related to your care with this guide.
Second Opinions: While not right for every case, this article helps you understand the potential value to a second opinion and how to go about getting one.
The First Visit to a Specialist: This article covers ways to prepare to assure you get the most out of this visit.
Preparing for Your First Day of Chemotherapy: Tips to easing the anxiety of the first chemotherapy treatment.
Managing Recurrence: When the fear of recurrence becomes reality, you may feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. These suggestions can get you pointed in the right direction.
Deciding to End the Journey: Stopping or Taking a Break from Therapy: For many people with cancer, there may come a time when enough is enough. You have every right as a patient to stop treatment or take a break at any time.
The "End" of the Journey: After active treatment is complete, you will begin a plan for follow-up care. Completion of therapy is a time when friends and family say, "Congratulations" and "You must be glad to be done", but you may be feeling uncertain about this milestone. You aren't alone. This is a very common reaction and there are a few tips to help you deal with it.
Keeping a record of treatments, tests and appointments can be a great help when seeing multiple physicians, at follow up visits or in the event of a trip to the emergency room. The forms in this section are designed to be printed and carried with you to appointments. You may want to start a 3 ring binder or folder to keep them easily accessible and organized. Have a family member draw a fun picture or use a photo you like to dress up the cover! As tests or therapies are completed, ask your nurse or doctor to record them on the chart. If you require additional pages, you can print just the page you need.