A cancer diagnosis often requires navigating an unfamiliar world.
Your healthcare team is here to take the journey with you. The healthcare industry is made up of a team of individuals who have specialties in various areas to help guide and support you through your cancer care needs.
This team can include a medical oncologist, a radiation oncologist, a surgeon, a nurse practitioner, a nurse navigator, a social worker, a dietician, a therapist, a caregiver and many others. Every person on your team has an important role to play in helping you navigate your medical issues.
It is important to know who your team members are and what they do so you can benefit from their expertise.
When you meet with a member of your healthcare team it is important to be prepared.
Prior to your appointments, you should think about the questions you may have for them.
Keep these questions written in a notebook since your time with the team member can often be limited. It is also important to keep an up-to-date list of your medications. This will help you and the healthcare team member.
Bring a trusted friend, relative or caregiver to appointments with you. Having a second pair of ears can be very helpful when being given new information as well as having a hand to hold can ease your anxiety.
Make sure you keep the names and contact information of the team members you meet. You never know when something will come up that they could be very helpful with in the future.
Keep an open mind about your healthcare team. There may be someone new who can offer something you didn’t know could be so helpful in your cancer journey. For example, a licensed acupuncturist, an oncology masseuse, a spiritual leader, or a counselor can be very beneficial in supporting your overall wellness.
Take the opportunities for self-care and try something new.
Don’t forget that YOU are the most important member of the healthcare team. It is up to you to ask questions and advocate for the support you need to be successful in your survivorship.
When in doubt just ask! Knowledge is power when it comes to your cancer care and your team is here to help you find the answers.
Contact Mission Hope Cancer Center with any questions you may have or to sign up for any of our on-going programs. Get in touch with our social workers to give you information about your health care team and how to connect with them!
Brianda Lemus, MSW, ASW for Santa Maria 805-346-3402 or Katie Crafton, MSW, LCSW for Arroyo Grande 805-474-5303.
HAVE A QUESTION? This weekly column produced by Marian Regional Medical Center, Cancer Program invites you to submit your questions to “Your Cancer Answers” at the following email address: MHCC@commonspirit.org