You have received a cancer diagnosis. You are shocked and scared. You meet with your medical doctor who provides you with a preliminary lineup of further testing and treatment. While you go through the testing process and wait for the results and potential recommendations, you begin to think about all of the different outcomes that you may hear. Perhaps someone suggests that need to start looking into getting a second opinion before you even get a first one. But before you start down that road, there are a few things you might want to consider.
Your decisions about your treatment are just as important as the treatments themselves and if you want to have the best outcome at any step along the way, you must be comfortable with the course that has been recommended for you.Barbara Jacoby
There is no way that you can make any decisions until you know exactly with what you are dealing. For instance, a diagnosis of breast cancer does not tell you the type of breast cancer, the stage of your cancer and what treatment your medical team will suggest until all of the test results are in. Therefore, no decisions can be realistically made until after the initial consultation has been completed. If you have had a great discussion with your doctor and feel extremely confident in the recommendations that have been proposed and all of your questions have been answered to your satisfaction, you should feel comfortable to proceed. However, if you are not comfortable that the recommendations given are the right ones for you, you should take this opportunity to get a second opinion.
Most often, you can request a referral from your primary care physician. Once the request has been made, you might want to start doing some of your own research. However, as there are so many considerations and perhaps so many more options than you had thought possible, you might find yourself very quickly overwhelmed. Therefore, it might be best for you to gather all of your information and schedule a conference with your doctor. But, keep in mind that your doctor may not be familiar with everything that you are presenting and that is fine as no doctor can be expected to keep up with everything that is happening with every disease but your doctor should be willing to review the info that you have gathered and get back to you to let you know what might be a consideration and what would not be acceptable in your particular case.
If you find yourself in a position where you have not been able to get a referral from your doctor or are not satisfied with the outcome of your discussions with your doctor, another opinion should be in order, and here again, you have many choices. You may want to find other oncologists in your area and research their information and education and any other input that has been provided regarding the hospitals or healthcare groups with which they are associated. Another way to consider is to contact those who you know who have dealt with cancer and ask for a referral. Most will have some recommendation or suggestion based upon their own experiences or their own previous research. As an example, in a recent post that I saw, a woman asked for feedback on how she might go about finding a particular resource to fit her needs. I was amazed when I saw that in response to her post, there were more than 50 responses, all providing some very interesting and important information to consider from the experiences of so many cancer patients that wanted to help.
Your decisions about your treatment are just as important as the treatments themselves and if you want to have the best outcome at any step along the way, you must be comfortable with the course that has been recommended for you. This requires not only the faith and confidence in the treatments themselves but also a complete trust in the medical professionals who are providing those treatments.
Therefore, if at any time you are not happy with your treatments, how they are administered, who is administering them and/or any sort of dialogues or feedback that makes you uncomfortable, do yourself a favor and replace the person who is making you feel badly. It is hard enough to deal with cancer let alone having to deal with anyone on your medical pathway who does not treat you with dignity and respect. Therefore, regardless of which step you are on in your treatment, please request someone with whom you are comfortable. It really does make a difference and you have more than enough with which to deal on the physical level with the actual treatment.