Talking to your doctor can be difficult, but the relationship you have with your health care team can make a big difference in how well you cope with cancer. Research shows that people who have good communication with their health care team are much more satisfied with their medical care than those who do not. They also tend to better cope with emotional stress and symptoms such as treatment side effects and pain.
Here are some tips for communicating with your health care team:
- Prepare a list of questions. Write down your questions and concerns about your illness and treatment before your next medical appointment. This way, you won’t forget to ask about something that was important to you.
- Write down your doctor’s answers. Taking notes will help you remember your doctor’s responses, advice and instructions. If you have a mobile device, you can also use it to take notes so that you can easily review the information at a later time.
- Bring someone with you to your appointments. The person who accompanies you can serve as a second set of ears. He or she may also be able to think of additional questions to ask your doctor or remember details that you may have forgotten.
- Ask for a contact. Important questions may come up between appointments. Find out whether there is someone you can talk to if you have an important issue or emergency. If your doctor is unavailable, is there someone else such as a nurse or social worker you can call?
The more you feel you can openly discuss any matters of concern to you, the better you are likely to feel about your care over the long term. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions—always seek the care you need and deserve.
Learn more about communicating with your health care team.
Today’s guest blog was written by CancerCare CEO Helen H. Miller, LCSW, ACSW.