I have heard too many stories of regret from both terminal cancer patients and surviving family members wishing their loved ones had gotten a second opinion. Being diagnosed with cancer is dreadful. It can feel like you have been swept up in a tornado of whirlwind emotions and racing thoughts that can feel all encompassing. Normal. Completely normal but it is very important in my view to try and pause and reflect.
Take a moment and simply pause. Sit down in a quiet space, close your eyes, and take 10 slow deep breaths. Shift your focus on what you do have control over right now. You might feel like you do not have any control over the cancer in your body, but you DO have complete control over the doctor you choose. This is the critical first step to ensure a healthy and cancer free future.
My suggestion is to begin by researching the best doctors in the HNC field. HNC diagnoses are relatively rare and account for only 3% of cancers in the United States. Therefore, in my opinion it is crucial to find a HNC specialist to assure your best care. Decide what doctors you want to see and compose a list with MD name, hospital location and contact number.
Let your fingers do the work. Pick up the phone and begin making appointments. This is a lengthy process, and it will require patience because generally a bit of information is needed.
Get organized. Mark appointments in your calendar and make copies of medical documents. Keep one set of documents at home for your personal records and another to bring with you to the doctor.
I have found, any reputable MD will encourage you to get a second opinion, particularly if your current doctor is NOT a specialist in the HNC field.
Why seek a second medical opinion?! It is an opportunity to gain more information about your diagnosis, as well as different treatment options. It allows you to find the most up to date information regarding newest technological advancements made in the field and new clinical trials.
Four ears are better than two! It is a stressful time and to ensure you ask pertinent questions and hear responses accurately, I suggest bringing a friend or loved one to the appointment to help take notes, as well as for moral support.
The objective in exploring your medical options is to provide reassurance and a sense of security knowing you have reached an educated and informative decision. This provides a sense of empowerment and hopefully peace of mind that you have the best plan in place for yourself to ideally conquer cancer and move on to live a healthy life.