A Cancer Diagnosis and a Second Opinion

In Breast Cancer, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

You have received a cancer diagnosis and find that you are shocked and scared. You meet with your medical doctor who provides you with a preliminary lineup of further testing and treatment. As 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. You might decide that you may need to start looking at the idea of getting a second opinion before you even get a first one but rather than racing off in that direction, there are a few things you might want to consider.

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, a second opinion should be in order…Barbara Jacoby

There is no way that you can even move from square one until you know exactly with what you are dealing. For instance, a diagnosis of breast cancer does not tell you what type of breast cancer it is, the stage of that cancer and what treatment your medical team will suggest. Therefore, no decisions can be realistically made until after the initial consultation after test results are in. Then it is time for the first decision to be made. If you have had a great consultation with your doctor and feel extremely confident in the recommendations given at this point, you should feel comfortable to proceed. However, if you are not comfortable that the recommendations given are the right ones for you, you have the option of getting 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. There are so many considerations and perhaps so many more options than you have thought possible and 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. Now know 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 this 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, a second opinion should be in order, and here again, you have many choices. In this age of modern technology, many are choosing to opt for an assessment from an independent online service like the one I found in my research where test results are uploaded for review by a team of oncologists who will provide their expert recommendations from their combined years of experience without your having to leave your home. This is a great way to go if you want a completely impartial review as these doctors are not personally going to provide your treatment. Therefore, they can remain completely objective. 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 that at the time I saw this 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 set. This requires not only the faith and confidence in the treatments themselves but also a complete trust in the medical professions 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 at which step you are on in your treatment, please request someone with whom you are comfortable. It really does make a difference.