Becoming a Patient

Getting a cancer diagnosis is stressful. The decision-making process can be overwhelming. Rio Grande Cancer Specialists will do everything we can to empower you to fight.

Educating yourself is one of the most effective ways to focus your energy on your journey. Information is power. You will need all the support and power to win this fight. There are multiple resources available to you such as The American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and Cancer.Net are among the most comprehensive and are free. But where do you start? Here are some basic tips to consider as you begin your personal journey:

Cancer diagnosis?

Advice for dealing with what comes next.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

    You may not want to impose, but you need help right now. Look for someone knowledgeable in the area of cancer. A friend in the field, a survivor you may know. Begin to build the support team that you deserve.

    Building your support team.

    Getting too much information too fast can be very overwhelming. Build a small but healthy team to share your journey.  Accept the help.  Your family needs the support.  That way, you won’t feel guilty about imposing too much on one person, relative or friend who will be overwhelmed.

    Know the details of the cancer diagnosis.

    First, find out the name of the cancer, its size, location, where it started, and if it has spread. Learn whether it’s viewed as slow-growing or aggressive cancer.

    Ask about the available treatment options, the success rate of each treatment, and what side effects to expect. Without that information, you can’t get an accurate understanding of the problem and know what to expect from the tre atment.

    Bring someone with you.

    Know that this is a time of personal crisis, and your ability to retain any meaningful information may be practically zero. So bring someone with you — someone who is reliable and knows how to be your advocate. Choose someone you like. It can be helpful to have someone with you to help unscramble the messages.

    Consult a cancer specialist.

    Primary care, internal medicine and family medicine physicians are excellent sources for finding the right cancer specialist. And they SHOULD refer you to one.  Cancer is multi-faceted and navigation by an oncology team is necessary to get the right outcome.

    Think about a medical surrogate.

    This is precautionary matter that everyone should have, not just cancer patients.  You are in charge of your life, health and outcome.  Ensure you are heard.  Having a surrogate will help secure that how you deal with your wellbeing will be honored.

    Get a second opinion.

    It’s always reasonable to seek a second opinion from an oncologist. You may wish to see someone at a center that specializes in cancer care. While second opinions are reasonable, don’t waste time by going to six or seven different cancer centers to see several doctors who may all tell you the same thing. If the two opinions are similar, it’s likely that all other cancer specialists will tell you the same thing. Caring, warmth and being approachable are always a start. Having a board certification in their field and having good patient satisfaction such as healthgrades.  Other characteristics you want to look for include: calling back, being on time, listening, wanting to get to know your family, and making sure they have a staff that is reliable and has clear communication.

    Be honest.

    Talk to your children. They know more than you think.