Cancer is complex. And given that doctors and specialists lead your care, it’s easy to forget that you are the most important part of your medical team.
Whether it’s your first appointment or the next on the calendar, stepping into an oncology office may feel scary or overwhelming. Yet, expressing your fears, hesitations, concerns, and questions is an important part of creating your most effective care plan.
Here are the top five things your care team wants you to know about sharing what you need:
- You aren’t bothering us when you tell us how you’re feeling. We realize this is a vulnerable time and consider it a privilege to be part of your team. Whether you’re experiencing a new symptom, side effect, or emotional challenge, we’re here to help you. You know your body and are the best person to recognize any new changes. Every time you can share a change or concern with us, we can help adjust your plan to best support you.
- You’re a human first, patient second. We know it may be challenging when people can’t see beyond your diagnosis. But cancer doesn’t define you. It’s something you’re experiencing. Your life extends far beyond appointments and tests, and we want—and expect—to care for you as a whole person.
- Tell us what you want to know. There’s a lot of information thrown your way. As medical professionals sometimes we forget that you’re hearing it all for the first time. Don’t understand something we said? Ask us to explain it again. Have a question? Take the time to get it answered. Want to know more about something? Feel free to request that level of detail. Education isn’t just important. It’s a part of our job.
- Share what’s important to you. We can share what has worked for others, but no one is exactly like you. Knowing who and what’s most important to you can help personalize the care we provide. Understanding your goals and values is valuable information for us to have when weighing your options or recommending the next steps.
- Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health. Coping with change doesn’t come naturally for most of us. It’s a learned skill. Letting us know that you’re interested in talking to someone further allows us to recommend highly skilled mental health practitioners that specialize in supporting people living with cancer.
For more information, our Iris Care Team is here to answer questions, provide support, and communicate openly and honestly, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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Reviewed by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board
This article meets Iris standards for medical accuracy. It has been fact-checked by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board, our team of oncology experts who ensure that the content is evidence based and up to date. The Iris Clinical Editorial Board includes board-certified oncologists and pharmacists, psychologists, advanced practice providers, licensed clinical social workers, oncology-certified nurses, and dietitians.