When you get a serious diagnosis, everything can become a blur. You may feel bombarded with medical jargon and whisked through treatment options and doctor’s appointments where it’s easy to blank out and forget all the important questions you had. This is normal. It happens to a lot of people facing a serious diagnosis.
But using Let’s Talk Treatment Options is like pressing a ‘pause’ button. It gives you a chance to stop and regroup so that you can organize the thoughts that might be spinning in your head. Together we’ll help you consider what you know, what you need to know, and what your doctor needs to know. At the end, you’ll have a list of questions and concerns to share with your doctor so your doctor can understand your needs. And, together you’ll be better able to make the treatment decisions that are right for you.
Here’s how it works: Let’s Talk Treatment Options has six simple steps that build on each other – My Situation, My Options, My Support, My Goals, My Other Questions and Concerns, and My List. We’ll work on them together, providing guidance and suggestions along the way. It’s a good idea to find a quiet place to work, and a half hour or so without interruptions. You can take breaks and save your work along the way. And, don’t worry if you forget to include something, you can always add it later.
Step 1: My Situation. Here you’ll be asked to think about any questions, thoughts or concerns you have about your diagnosis. Do you fully understand your diagnosis? Is there anything your doctor needs to know about you or your lifestyle, before deciding on treatment? Is there anything you’re not clear about? Be sure to think about your whole situation.
Step 2: My Options. In step 2, you’ll be asked to think about what you know about your treatment options. Is there anything you’ve read or heard that you want to discuss? Do you think you might want a second opinion or information on clinical trials? You may have a strong feeling about the type of treatment you want or don’t want, or you may know very little about what’s available. That’s OK. What’s important is that your doctor understands what you know, and what you don’t know.
Step 3: My Support. Having a good support system is important. Here you’ll be asked to make a list of the people who may help out during treatment. Do you have friends, family members, people at work, or in your community who can help? Are there support groups in your area? Do you have another doctor that should be kept in the loop? Be sure to think broadly. Often times support comes from unexpected places!
Step 4: My Goals. In step 4, you’ll be asked to think about your goals and write down what matters most to you right now. Is family time, hiking, playing piano or some other activity important to you? It will help your doctor to know about your life and what’s meaningful to you. This step is really important and may be difficult, but we’ll do this together.
Step 5: My Other Questions and Concerns. Here you’ll be asked to think about other key questions and concerns you may have. Have you left anything out? Is there anything else you need to know about your diagnosis, treatment options or what to expect? Double-check your list to be sure it includes the questions and comments that are most important to you.
Step 6: My List. This is the final step. You now have a list of questions and concerns to discuss with your doctor. You’ll be prompted to add any additional items and then arrange your list with the most important items on top. When you’re done, your personal question list will be ready to print out and take with you to your next appointment. Be sure to click on the ‘What’s Next’ link for tips on talking with your doctor.
Now let’s get started!