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    Preparing for Your First Appointment

    You’ve found a doctor and medical center and are getting ready for your first appointment. Here is what you can typically expect, what you should be prepared to bring, and common questions you may want to ask.

    What to expect

    Your initial appointment may include:

    • A meeting and evaluation with your hematology oncologist.
    • A meeting with the other members of your cancer care team.
    • Additional tests to ensure the accuracy of your diagnosis and to help guide your treatment plan. Your doctor will explain what tests you’ll need and why.
    • A meeting with a financial counselor, social worker, or other support personnel.

    What to bring

    • A support person. You will discuss a lot of new information with your doctor. You may find it helpful to bring someone who can listen and take notes to help you remember everything and to support you.
    • Medications. A list of medications you are taking, including dietary supplements.
    • Personal and family history. Be prepared to discuss your medical history and information about family members diagnosed with cancer, including their age at the time of diagnosis and the type of cancer.
    • Medical records. Your doctor will likely want your complete medical history. The medical center should give you more information on what they need and how to collect the information.
    • Questions. Write down a list of your questions and concerns before your appointment. See the next section for a list of common questions to get you started.

    Questions to ask

    Learning more about your diagnosis and treatment plan helps you take an active role in your cancer care. Your healthcare team is the best source of information. Here are some questions you can ask to help you better understand your diagnosis and treatment options.

    Questions about your diagnosis

    • What type of blood cancer do I have?
    • Do you typically treat patients with this diagnosis?
    • Has the cancer spread beyond where it started?
    • What stage is my blood cancer and what does that mean?
    • What other procedures or tests do I need?
    • Is there anything unique about my cancer that makes prognosis better or worse?
    • Should I get a second opinion?
    • Is this cancer genetic? Do my children or other family members have a higher risk of being diagnosed?

    Questions about daily activities

    • How will treatment affect my usual activities?
    • Will I be able to work?
    • Will I need to stay in the hospital?
    • Will I need someone to help me at home?
    • Will I need help taking care of my kids?
    • Are there any activities I should avoid now or during treatment?
    • Are there any diet changes or nutrition considerations I need to be aware of?

    Questions about treatment

    • What is the goal of treatment?
    • Can we cure my cancer or stop it from growing?
    • What are my treatment options?
    • Do I need additional diagnostic tests before treatment?
    • What risks or potential side effects are associated with each treatment?
    • Are there any clinical trials that are right for me?
    • How long will I receive treatment, how often, and where?
    • How will I know if the treatment is working?
    • Can I talk with another of your patients who has received this treatment?
    • Are there any resources or websites you recommend for more information?

    After the appointment

    Here are a few actions you can take after your first appointment to stay organized.

    • Start a file of all test results, medication, nutrition, therapy tips, and any other information related to your diagnosis or treatment.
    • Keep a running list of questions, concerns, or side effects that occur so you can discuss them with your healthcare team at the next appointment.
    • Talk with your family about what is happening so they have a better understanding of your disease and how it impacts you physically and emotionally.

    Read next

    Coping with your diagnosis

    Choosing a treatment provider

    Getting a second opinion