Learning that you have a brain tumor can initially turn your world upside down. Finding a doctor you trust and feel comfortable with is the first step toward navigating your medical care.
You will want to obtain as much useful information as possible about your diagnosis and what it means for your life as you go forward. The following tips can help you prepare for your first appointment:
Write Down Your Questions Before Hand
There are many questions that come to mind: What type of brain tumor do I have? What treatment options are available? What can I expect during treatment? Are there side effects? How will the brain tumor affect my daily activities and long-range plans? Prioritize your questions, ask the most important ones first, and be sure to voice concerns or ask for clarification.
It’s a good idea to write down and organize your ideas in one place. You can buy a binder with dividers, get business card sleeves, or keep a notebook – use whatever is the easiest way for you to organize your thoughts and keep information in one place.
Gather All Your Medical Information
Be prepared to disclose all your prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbal remedies and supplements. You will want to bring along your insurance cards, names and phone numbers of your other doctors, and your medical records if your doctor doesn’t have them in advance.
Ask a Friend of Family Member to Come Along
You may find it is helpful to bring along a close friend or family member who will serve as your “ears” during your initial appointments. Let that person know in advance what you expect to get out of your visit so he or she can help you stay on track, take notes for you, and help you recall what the doctor said afterwards.
Be Open About Your Situation
Chances are, your doctor has heard it all. So do not be afraid to let him or her know what is happening in your life so that your treatment will be as effective as possible.
Share with your doctor any life changes, such as a divorce or the death of a loved one. Let your doctor know about changes in sleep patterns or problems with depression or anxiety. If you are having difficulty understanding because of hearing problems or because English is not your first language, tell your doctor.
Keeping an open path of communication is important throughout your treatment, but especially during this first meeting. Try to remain calm and give whatever information you need to help you feel most comfortable with your doctor.