How did this happen? Where do I go for treatment? What are the side effects?
How much will it cost? Can I continue to work? What role will my family
and friends play? Is this the right treatment plan for me? Will my insurance
cover the costs? Why me?
These are questions every patient with a new cancer diagnosis will ask.
Frederick Regional Health System (FRHS) believes every patient should take an active role in their healthcare,
especially after a
cancer diagnosis. Without education, it’s hard to make treatment decisions (or to
be sure you’re making the right ones) that are best for you or your
loved ones. Before starting any treatment, consider the following important
steps to take control of your life after a cancer diagnosis.
Get a Second Opinion
Sometimes diagnosing cancers can be challenging, the diagnosis is unclear,
or the outlook uncertain. It’s normal to wonder if another doctor
could do more or recommend a different treatment option for you. That’s
why second opinions are so important before any cancer treatment begins. A
second opinion can help you feel better about your diagnosis and treatment plan. Many
health insurance plans even require a second opinion before covering some
FRHS is Maryland’s only certified member of the
MD Anderson Cancer Network, one of the world’s most respected healthcare networks focused on
cancer, patient care, research, education, and prevention.
What does this mean for you? As a certified member, our team has access to the latest and greatest
cancer treatment options, leading-edge research from across the nation,
evidence-based guidelines and best practices, and second opinions from
nationally recognized physicians who are also certified by the network.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and have seen a cancer specialist,
a second opinion allows you to review your options with another expert. At the
Second Opinion Clinic, our
MD Anderson certified physicians are ready to give you a better understanding of your diagnosis, the best
options for your diagnosis, and guidance along your journey. They’ll
offer recommendations, treatment pathways, guidelines, and peer-to-peer
consultations with other MD Anderson faculty to discuss your specific
type of cancer. If their diagnosis or treatment plan differs from what
you originally received, they’ll explain why and give you the freedom
and control to decide which options work best for you.
(Click here to learn more about second opinions at FRHS).
Ask Your Oncologist or Healthcare Team
The needs of every newly diagnosed patient and their families are different.
Some want to learn everything about their cancer, while others only want
the basics. Some feel anxious if they have too much information, while
others are stressed if they don’t have enough. No matter your preference,
asking your healthcare team the right questions about your specific cancer
and treatment will help you manage your care.
A good oncology team will listen to your concerns, explain what’s
happening in terms you can understand, and empathize with you and your
unique needs. Before your initial appointment, grab a notebook and start
writing down questions to ask your doctor on your visit. Bring a friend
or family member to ask additional questions or take notes as you discuss
the situation with your doctor. If you don’t understand something,
don’t be afraid to speak up and tell your doctor. Medical vocabulary
can be challenging, especially when you feel anxious or scared.
For newly diagnosed cancer patients, consider the basics:
- What type of cancer do I have? What is my exact diagnosis and stage of cancer?
- Where is my cancer located? Has it spread?
- What is my prognosis (best estimate of how my disease will respond to treatment)?
What is my life expectancy?
- What are my treatment options?
- Which treatment do you recommend and why?
- What possible risks or side effects can I expect with each treatment option?
How can I manage them?
- How often will I need treatments? How long will they last?
- How can I prepare for my procedures?
- How will treatment affect my daily life? Can I continue to work, exercise,
care for my kids, etc.?
- What about clinical trials? Am I eligible to join any?
integrative or complementary medicine services do you recommend in addition to my treatment?
support services available to my family and me?
- Are other family members at risk? What screenings, if any, should they have?
- Who can help me pay for my treatment and handle health insurance concerns?
- What resources do you recommend to learn more about my disease?
Cancer treatment involves many sophisticated technologies, machinery, and
medicine, which is why it can be very expensive. Some treatments require
hospital stays, and some health insurance and managed care plans won’t
cover all the costs. Add in travel and lodging expenses, if needed, and
the costs can add up pretty quickly. Ultimately, it becomes your responsibility,
as the patient or loved one of a patient, to cover these payments.
Did you know we offer
financial counseling and referral assistance to cancer patients through the
James M Stockman Cancer Institute? We can help you apply for financial programs to cover medical expenses,
including Medical Assistance, Social Security benefits, and COBRA. Contact
Irene Hollis, financial counselor, at 240-566-4337 or
email@example.com for details.
Don’t Navigate It Alone
Your cancer treatment isn’t just about the medical equipment or care
provided to treat your disease.
No one should ever have to fight cancer alone. Throughout your journey, you should
have a quality team of professional, caring folks to connect you and your
loved ones to additional resources and support. These cheerleading champions
should be in your corner, helping to guide you every step of the way.
At FRHS, we offer:
Every cancer patient works with a nurse navigator, or a medical professional
who serves as a guide for all newly diagnosed patients. They not only
educate patients about their cancer and treatment options, they also help
to coordinate care. Our nurse navigators have two common goals: to help
ease anxiety and to eliminate barriers to care. They’re here to
make sure your medical, emotional, and logistical needs are met. Call
240-566-4100 to speak with a nurse navigator today.
Cancer may be one of the most frightening words in modern healthcare, and a cancer
diagnosis is likely to feel overwhelming to you and your loved ones. But
there are resources and support available to you. Visit the
James M Stockman Cancer Institute where we will be fully prepared to help answer any questions or concerns
you may have and/or provide a second opinion.