Diagnosed with cancer? Here are 3 questions to ask
This year, an estimated 1.7 million people will hear, “You have cancer,” according to the American Cancer Society.
“As physicians, we know that even after providing patients with a diagnosis and treatment plan, the questions do not stop there,” says Dr. Jerry Liu, an oncologist and hematologist with Advocate Medical Group in Crystal Lake, Ill. “Your care team is a resource for you and can answer any questions you might have right off the bat.”
He recommends coming prepared with the following:
- How is my cancer diagnosis going to affect my life? The answer to this question will look different from individual to individual. A cancer diagnosis likely will mean modifying your lifestyle. You will need to shift your attention to focusing on treatment – whether that means surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy – and you may need time off work. You’ll want to maintain a healthy diet and level of physical activity in addition to routine activities with family and friends.
- What does this mean for my family? Are they at risk? Generally, your family’s risk will not significantly increase just because you receive a cancer diagnosis. However, if you do have a family trend or history of cancer, or if your family members are interested in learning more about preventative care, a patient navigator can connect you with a genetic counselor.
- Do I still have hope? There is always hope; however, it looks different for each patient depending on diagnosis, staging and treatment options. For one patient, it could mean a cure, and for another, a remaining life free of pain and suffering.
Dr. Liu also suggests bringing somebody from your support system with you to your appointments as you begin to work with your care team.
“Having an extra sounding board in the room to aide in processing the amount of information you will be provided will prove beneficial in the long run,” he says. “A cancer diagnosis will initially bring a lot more questions than answers, but your caregivers and support system are there to walk you through every step.”
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