Tag Archives: oncologist

Questions To Ask Your Oncologist


Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / stockimages
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / stockimages

Questions To Ask Your Oncologist

Once you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you will meet with several cancer specialists, usually a plastic or oncological surgeon and an oncologist, depending upon your particular diagnosis. 

One vitally important thing for you to keep in mind when you meet with your doctors after the biopsy is DON’T GO ALONE!  Not because you have anything to fear from them, but because you will – at some point – feel overwhelmed and confused by all of the new words and information coming at you.  A feeling of disbelief is common, of being overwhelmed, and having a list of questions to ask can be very empowering and helpful, especially when faced with an expert who is telling us what we need to do to get on the road to healing from breast cancer.

My Best Advice – 3 Things To Do When Going To See Your Oncologist For The First Time:

  1. Take someone with you – a trusted relative or close friend.  I can’t stress the importance of this enough.  You might think you’ve got it all under control, but I guarantee you at some point you are going to be overwhelmed with information and stop listening.  Another set of ears to take notes and/or ask questions is invaluable.
  2. Take something to record the conversation with so you can replay it later.  You will never be able to take sufficient notes and words/phrases are often forgotten or remembered poorly.
  3. Take the following list of questions to your appointment with your oncologist.

Here Are The Questions You Will Want To Ask:

  1. What type of breast cancer do I have?
  2. Where exactly is it located? (if you don’t know)
  3. Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory test results) to me? (make sure you get a copy of your report as you may need it again)
  4. What is the stage of my cancer?  What does this mean?
  5. Has the cancer spread to my lymph nodes or anywhere else?
  6. Is the tumor fueled by hormones?
  7. What is my prognosis (chance of recovery)?
  8. How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer?
  9. What are my treatment options (or do I require further tests)?
  10. Why are you recommending this therapy for me – what exactly will it do for me?
  11. What are the chances that my cancer could come back after this treatment?
  12. Will I need to be hospitalized for treatment, or is this treatment done in an outpatient clinic?
  13. What is the expected timeline for my treatment plan? Do I need to be treated right away?
  14. What are the short term side effects of this therapy?
  15. What long-term side effects have been typical with this cancer treatment? (Oh, how I wish I had asked that question!)
  16. How can I best manage any side effects – any activities or foods that will help?
  17. What lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, rest) do you recommend I make to stay as healthy as possible before, during, and after treatment?  (If they don’t have any suggestions, please use my website as a resource because all of these things DO matter.)
  18. What are the risks of the therapy you are recommending?
  19. Are there other ways to treat my breast cancer?
  20. Are there any clinical trials (research studies involving people) open to me? (if you want that)
  21. If chemotherapy is recommended: Where will I need to go for my infusions?
  22. How long will the treatment last?
  23. Will I need to worry about premature menopause and infertility?
  24. What about lymphedema?
  25. Are there any vitamins or supplements I should avoid taking during my treatments and, if so, why?
  26. Whom should I call with questions or concerns during non-business hours? (because they WILL come up!)
  27. If I’m worried about managing the costs related to my treatments, is there anyone who can help me with these concerns?
  28. Are you aware of any support groups in this area that I could join?  (if you want that)
  29. Can you suggest a mental health professional I can see if I start to feel depressed, overwhelmed or distressed?
  30. How will I know if the cancer has come back? What should I watch for?

If your treatment involves surgery, see my article Prepare for Breast Surgery: 14 Questions To Ask Your Surgeon.

Don’t be scared.  You can do this.  Breathe.  Talk to a friend.  Punch a pillow.  Email me if you need someone to talk to (just hit the Contact button above).

I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Choosing the Right Oncologist for YOU


Choosing the Right Oncologist for YOU

When a person is newly diagnosed with breast cancer, the last thing on our minds is whether or not we will have the right oncologist – someone who cares about us and understands what we’re going through.

Yet it is probably one of the most important things about your journey through breast cancer because this person is part of your healing team.

What exactly is an oncologist?

Breaking the word down, “onc” means bulk, mass, or tumor, and the suffix ”-logy”, means “study of”.  A medical professional who studies cancer and practices oncology is an ”oncologist”.

I know so many women who have been complaining about their oncologist lately!  There are good ones and bad ones, just as with any profession.  As long as you are paying attention and observant, you’ll easily be able to pick whether you have one or the other.

Honestly, this is so important.  If you don’t feel like your oncologist is giving you what you need, you have every right to “fire” them and find another.  Remember – they work for YOU, not the other way around.

Here’s what to look for

*Are they honest and open, easy to speak with?  Do they look at you and meet your gaze?

*Do they answer your questions using technical jargon you don’t understand?  If so, you must tell them you don’t understand.  Do they then take the time to rephrase the terminology so that you do understand?

*Do they discuss your lab results with you and make sure you understand them?

*Do they present you with options for treatment and explain each one carefully until you understand?

*Do they keep their appointments with you? (keeping in mind that sometimes they will get delayed)

*Do they return your phone calls within 24 hours?

*Are their office staff pleasant to deal with and happy?

*Are they open to allowing you to do some things your way?

If you have to answer “no” to any of those questions, it might be time to find yourself another oncologist.  It’s your body and your life, you have the final say here. 

Having a good rapport with your oncologist is really important because they are part of your healing team.  You must be comfortable with them and know that they are doing their absolute best for you.  If you don’t feel that way, you have every right to find yourself another doctor!

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.