How should I handle my oncology appointments when someone cannot accompany me?

It is essential to understand that you are always your best advocate and the most important member of your medical team. Your physician and other members of your treatment team need your input to provide you the best medical care possible. If you do not understand something your medical team has told you, you should always ask for clarification and more information. If you are well informed and feel comfortable with the treatment plan, you will be better able to comply with that plan. Several other things you can do to be your own health care advocate are:

Communicate with trusted family members regarding information about your diagnosis and treatment plan. Even if they cannot attend your appointments, they need to know what is going on in order to be a strong support for you during this process.

If you feel unsure about what your physician has told you, feel comfortable getting a second opinion. You must feel comfortable with your treatment plan for the plan to be successful. Your physician wants you to feel that your treatment plan is best and should welcome a second opinion.

Openly communicate information about your needs with your treatment team. They cannot meet your individual needs if they do not know what those needs are.

Learn about your type of cancer, treatment options and possible side effects from treatment. If you do not feel comfortable learning this yourself, ask a trusted friend to seek out this information and be able to provide necessary information, should you want it.

Be honest with your physician about your fears and concerns and the side effects caused by your treatment. Your physician cannot manage those symptoms if you are not honest.

For more information contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge at (225) 927-2273, cbritton@cancerservices.org , or visit the Education Center at 550 Lobdell Ave., Baton Rouge.

ä Internet Resources:

National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship – Cancer Survival Toolbox

canceradvocacy.org/resources/cancer-survival-toolbox/basic-skills/

American Society of Clinical Oncology – Talking with Doctors and Nurses

cancer.net/coping/age-specific-information/cancer-teens/dealing-cancer/talking-doctors-and-nurses

This column is presented as a service by Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, a United Way affiliate.