Tips for Before, During, and After Your Oncologist Appointment

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Sometimes it can be very difficult to get all the information you need with the short time you spend duringiStock_000063343045_XXXLarge your consultation with your oncologist.  Especially the first time you get the diagnosis, this can be hard, as your mind will not be very aware of everything your oncologist is telling you at that moment.  Once in treatment, or even in follow-up once in remission, it can be good that you are prepared before you see your physician.

Being able to ask all the questions you want will help you to be better informed on your condition.  In order to help you, we provide a set of questions that you could ask to your physician. Pick out the ones you like or you feel are more relevant for the situation you are in.

The aim is that you learn to take an active role in your treatment planning and in your survivor planning once you are there.

Preparing your appointment

  • Take your notebook, a piece of paper or print a list of questions and write down or indicate what information you would like to know.
  • Write down words that you do not understand, or words that you don’t know how to interpret in a specific context.
  • Think about going for a second opinion. Ask yourself if you would like to ask this to your physician, maybe he/she can redirect you.
  • Do you have enough material about your disease? Would you like to know what material is around there? Ask your nurse and oncologist for such information if available.
  • Not all information on the internet is reliable. If you have doubts about anything, mention to your physicians what your worries are, they will help you out or refer you with credible information.
  • Mentally rehearse asking the questions you want to your nurse or physician. This might help you if you have some mental barrier to ask these questions. Alternatively, you can try to mail them prior to your consultation to you nurse or physician if you have the contact details.
  • If you wish, make a copy of the questions you have to hand over to your physician during the consultation.
  • Tip: don’t print all the internet pages you have found. This will end up in a big pile, and might evoke the opposite reaction. Just one A4 page with your questions should do.

During your appointment

  • Before going in, rehearse the questions you want to ask. This again will help to cross the mental barrier if there is one.
  • Have your list of questions ready in your hand when you go into the consultation room.
  • The first thing when seeing your nurse or oncologist, say that you have some questions you would like to ask before the consultation ends. Say this at the beginning of your consultation while shaking hands, so he/she is prepared and might anticipate on you having questions. If you have printed your questions, hand it over to him.
  • If there are terms that you do not understand, interrupt and simply ask to explain that term.
  • Before going out, ask yourself if all your questions have been answered.

After your appointment

  • If you can, sit down in the waiting room to write down as much as you can, as it is still fresh in your memory.
  • Once home, go over your questions and notes, and check if you have all your answers.
  • Write down your answers in your journal or notebook.
  • Go online to complete your information in treatment plans or survivor plans. On Esperity, you can
    • enter your medication history
    • enter your complementary treatments
    • enter your diagnosis
    • schedule your new appointments and add comments (and get email reminders)
  • Talk about your appointment with a loved one. Talk about how you feel and what the oncologists and nurses told you.
  • Sometimes, it can help to go online and talk to other people, preferably with the same condition. Sharing experiences might re-enforce you and educate you on your condition. This will lead to more questions that you can share with your oncologist during your next visit.

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