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Newly Diagnosed? Some First Steps

Newly Diagnosed? Some First Steps

Written by  Facing Cancer Together
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A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, and you may not know where to start. Here's a checklist.

1. You will probably need an oncologist or other cancer specialist if you don't already have one.

  1. The National Cancer Institute offers detailed information that will help you choose a doctor and hospital or treatment facility.  
  2. Central Pennsylvania has many board certified specialists and accredited facilities, but check to see if your choices are limited by your health insurance.
  3. Click here to watch a video about choosing a doctor.


2. Ask your doctor to discuss your concerns in terms you can understand:

  1. What does my diagnosis mean?
  2. What are my treatment options?
  3. How much experience do you have with my type of cancer and its treatments?
  4. Do I have time before I need to make a treatment decision?
  5. It's hard to remember everything. Ask someone to go with you to your medical appointments to take notes – or bring a tape recorder.


3. Consider getting a second opinion, which can help you understand your choices.

  1. Ask your current doctor or primary care physician for a referral .
  2. Ask a cancer support agency in this area for a suggestion.


 4. Contact one of the advocacy or cancer support groups nearby that can help you gather information about your disease and treatments.

  1. Click here to see a list of cancer resources.
  2. Check their websites for helpful guides like this one from the American Cancer Society or this one, for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer. 


5. Get organized. You'll have lots of medical information and bills to keep track of.

  1. Idea: get two big loose-leaf binders with plastic sleeves. In one, put all your medical records and in the other put all your bills, insurance forms, etc.


6. Go over your family finances. Not all cancers are very expensive to treat, but some are.

  1. This article in Central PA Magazine can help you get started.


7. Decide if and how you may wish to tell family, friends and co-workers about your cancer.

  1. This short guide can help. 


8. It's okay to accept help and support.

    1. Let a trusted friend or family member research your cancer or help organize your files.
    2. Ask a neighbor to go shopping for you or spend time with your kids.
    3. You may find it helpful to talk with a counselor, spiritual advisor or medical doctor about your emotions.

The video below will give you some information about how to choose a doctor:


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