This article is from Coping With Cancer
Magazine May 2003 publication and is excerpted from Otherwise Healthy
- A Planner to Focus Your Thoughts on Organizing Life After Being Diagnosed
With Breast Cancer by Lynda Shrager, 2000 by At The pond Publishing.
or call (518) 475-1792
When you are diagnosed with cancer, you are thrown into a world of second
opinions, diagnostic tests, invasive procedures, surgeries, medications
and medical personnel. You are constantly being bombarded by new and
unfamiliar information that needs to be processed and acted upon in
To help deal with this overwhelming experience you may find
it helpful to create detailed lists for every task that needs to be
accomplished. The following checklist can help you organize the chaos:
- Review your health insurance coverage:
- Request a "case manager" - a representative assigned to your case
for the duration of your treatment. When contacting your insurer,
always ask for this person by name to facilitate consistency and
create a 'bond' with this critical player in your medical scenario.
- Maintain detailed records
of all conversations with insurance personnel - day, time,
with whom you spoke, a synopsis of the conversation,
and .ask for a reference number
- Understand the limitations and restrictions of your coverage.
- Prepare to undergo various diagnostic tests:
- Obtain the direct phone number for the scheduling personnel and learn
- Schedule tests early in the day to avoid later day back-ups that often
occur. This will avoid lengthen of pre-test anxiety time.
- Determine where all previous test results (slides, films, etc) are
stored. Note the named of the contact personnel and their phone numbers
to assist in accessing your records. Make sure previous tests are on
hand to compare to the new results.
- Research your specific diagnosis, its potential effects on your body,
who treats it and how:
- Don't be overwhelmed with the magnitude of information out there. Your
own doctors, people who have been in your situation, and the major cancer
organizations will help you to hone in on the most pertinent information.
- Network. Talk to people who have "been there." Empower yourself with
- Get a second opinion:
- Obtain all necessary insurance approvals and referrals to ensure maximum
coverage and reimbursement.
- Establish who your contact person is at the 'second opinion' facility
and ascertain exactly what you need to bring with you. You may be able
to lighten the load by sending some information in advance of your visit.
Since test results are a measurements of change from the previous baseline
test, never run the risk of sending , and possibly losing original
slides and films.
- Prepare detailed questions ahead of time and present them to your doctor
at the beginning of the visit. he can then gear the conversation toward
answering your questions and discussing your concerns throughout the
visit, rather than be faced with a long list of issues when the allotted
time is up.
- Bring a detailed medical history.
- Complete ordered tests in advance of your doctor's appointment and call
to make sure that your doctor has received your test results.
- Maintain a log of all lab results to track your progress.
- Prepare a list of daily tasks that people can help you accomplish:
- Match a task with a "helper," noting his or her name , phone number
- Organize the "information dispersers - a group of close friend and family
who will be updated daily on the situation and who will then be responsible
to keep the rest of the world informed of the news. This will
avoid the incessant ring of the telephone and free you up to spend time
- Organize the meals your friends have volunteered to deliver so you
do not end up eating lasagna every night.
- Should you be "down and out" for a few days, fill out 'pick-up' forms
and medical releases for your children and have them ready to hand to
your 'kid coverage' designee.
- Understand all the aspects of your specific treatment plan:
- Know the possible side effects of your treatment and keep track
of those you experience. List the exact dosages of all drugs you are
taking - including chemotherapy agents, prescriptions, over-the- counter
and natural herbal remedies.
- Plan activities by plotting "good vs. bad" days according to
your particular treatment schedule.
- Plot out medications taken at home on a daily calendar.
- Create a schedule of follow-up visits and medical tests at specifically
approved time intervals to ensure coverage by your health insurers.
Organize the Chaos Duing Chemotherapy/Cancer Treatment
... 2000 by At The Pond Publishing. Visit www.otherwisehealthy.com
(518)475-1792. Organize the Chaos! by Lynda Shrager.
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