Talking with Your Doctor About Mesothelioma
Being diagnosed with mesothelioma can be overwhelming. Your life as you know will change in a number of ways. No matter how healthy you were prior to diagnosis, there is a good chance you will be spending more time than you ever imagined in various doctors’ offices.
One key to successful mesothelioma treatment is establishing good relationships with your healthcare team. These professionals will be by your side throughout your treatment and it is important that you trust their judgment and that you feel comfortable interacting with them. It’s also important to remember as you go through treatment that there are no bad or stupid questions. Throughout your journey to recovery you and your loved ones should feel empowered to ask for more information or further explanation any time you need to. The only bad questions are those left unasked.
After diagnosis, the first thing you will likely discuss with your doctor is your care plan. For the first few appointments after diagnosis, there will be a large volume of information presented to you. This information will likely include:
- Specifics on your cancer pathology report
- Additional tests you may require
- Procedure/treatment/medication options
- Information on coping
In order to get the most out of these early appointments try to bring a friend or family member along both for support and to record important information. This person can also help remind you to ask questions. Your doctor may also give you additional information to read at home and recommendations for further research if you are interested.
Your pathology report is probably the single most important document in developing your care plan. This is the report that shows the unique characteristics of your cancer and it is what will be used to develop a customized care plan for you. There are standards of care for specific types of cancer. Your doctor will use these standards of care along with your pathology report to outline potential treatment options. It is important to remember that your doctor is your advisor and that you are the one who will make the final decision on how you should be treated. Some questions you may consider asking when you and your doctor are discussing treatment options include:
- Are there other options I should consider?
- Will any of these options be better or worse for me based on my specific pathology report or current state of health?
- What are the side effects of treatment?
- What is the length of treatment?
- Are all treatment options covered by my insurance?
- Will I need other tests/procedures prior to starting treatment?
- After this treatment will my cancer be in remission?
- Will my recurrence rate change based on the treatment I select?
The questions presented above should be enough to start the dialogue on treatment with your doctor. Also don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if they have treated people in the past with similar statistics as you. They may be able to provide some real-world advice based on past experiences. It is however important to remember that there is no treatment decision that is right for all people. Everyone’s body is unique and responds differently to treatment. Until you begin the actual treatment process there is no way of predicting how your body will respond. Also, if you are unsatisfied or uncomfortable with how the dialogue with your doctor is progressing you should seek a second opinion from another doctor. Choosing a course of cancer treatment is a very important decision and you should feel confident in the doctor you are partnering with on that decision.
Coping During Treatment
Once you and your doctor have agreed upon a care plan you are well on your way to becoming cancer-free. It is important to continue the dialogue with your doctor during treatment so you can continue to receive the care you need. More on coping with mesothelioma.
Free Information Packet on Mesothelioma
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