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Your Cancer Journey

While your cancer journey will be unique to you, there’s much that cancer patients share that can benefit you on your path. The information here can help you create your own roadmap and provide much-needed direction as you meet with your cancer treatment team for the first time and for ongoing treatment.

Meeting with Your Oncologist

After you receive a cancer diagnosis, you’ll be referred to an oncologist – a doctor who specializes in treating people with cancer. Depending on your type of cancer, you will meet with one of three types of oncologists: medical, surgical, or radiation.

When meeting with your oncologist, some questions you might want to ask include:

  • What type of cancer do I have?
  • What stage is it, and where exactly is it located?
  • Can you explain my lab test results and what they mean?
  • Are more diagnostic tests or procedures needed?
  • What symptoms or side effects will I experience with this type of cancer?
  • What can I do to minimize those symptoms and side effects?
  • What might make my symptoms or side effects worse?
  • What treatment options are being recommended?
  • What are the benefits and risks of each treatment?
  • What is the success rate of each?
  • What are the potential short-term and long-term effects of each treatment?
  • What alternative treatments are available for my type of cancer?
  • Who will be part of my treatment team? Where do you recommend treatment and why?
  • How soon should I start treatment?
  • Who should I call with questions or concerns during non-business hours?

Consider writing down your questions in advance and taking a friend with you to help you remember your physician’s answers or other instructions. You may also wish to write answers down in a special journal or use your phone to record the conversation so you can reference the information later.

Your Cancer Treatment Team

Most cancer treatment teams include an oncologist, an Oncology hematologist, a surgeon (depending on the type of cancer), a chemotherapy-certified nurse, a pharmacist, and a social worker who are specially trained in the treatment of cancer.

Your team will explain your treatment plan, what to expect, the length and frequency of your treatment regime, and possible side effects and will work with you to minimize discomfort and changes to your lifestyle. At the Kelsey-Seybold Cancer Center, you also have 24/7 access to an After-Hours Nurse Hotline at 713-442-0000. You can call after regular business hours – even on holidays – to talk with a registered nurse about your treatments or negative side effects.

What to Ask About Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can be given orally (by pill), by injection (a shot), or intravenously (by IV) through a process called infusion. If your treatment plan calls for infusion therapy, which is most common, you may wish to ask your medical oncologist the following questions:

  • What is the goal for my chemotherapy?
  • When it’s over, will I be cured or in remission?
  • What are the potential side effects?
  • What can be done to minimize side effects?
  • How often will I need chemotherapy and for how long?
  • How long is each treatment?
  • Should I eat or drink before treatment?
  • Can I bring a family member or friend with me?
  • Can I drive myself home?
  • Can I continue to work during chemotherapy?
  • Who should I call with questions or concerns during non-business hours?

At your first appointment, ask your nurse about each step, what to expect, and who you should call if you experience significant side effects after treatment.

What to Ask About Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is another common treatment for cancer. It uses high-energy particles to destroy cancer cells and is frequently used in combination with other cancer treatments. If your oncologist recommends radiation therapy, you should consider asking the following questions:

  • How does radiation therapy work for my type of cancer?
  • What kind of radiation therapy is recommended for my cancer?
  • How is radiation given?
  • How often will I need radiation therapy?
  • How long is each session?
  • What potential side effects should I expect?
  • What can I do to minimize those side effects?
  • Will the side effects stop after radiation therapy is complete?
  • Is it okay to eat or drink before a radiation session?
  • Can I drive myself home after treatment?
  • Can I continue to work during radiation treatments?
  • Who should I call with questions or concerns during non-business hours?

As with chemotherapy treatment, talk to your nurse about each step, what to expect, and who you should call if you experience significant side effects after treatment.

Build Your Support Network

As part of your cancer treatment team at Kelsey-Seybold Cancer Center, you have the full support of a Nurse Navigator and a social worker. They will answer your questions, provide resources and support services, and offer guidance when you need help in any aspect of your cancer treatment. They are invaluable resources in your fight against cancer.

In addition to the numerous resources and support services available for all cancer patients, our breast cancer patients also have the support of the Kelsey-Seybold Breast Cancer Support group. If you have breast cancer, you can talk about what you’re going through and be inspired by others.

At Kelsey-Seybold Cancer Center, we’re with you every step of the way. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact us at 713-442-1081.

We make scheduling easy for you

You can schedule appointments through our secure patient portal, MyKelseyOnline, or call our 24/7 Contact Center at 713-442-0427. Virtual Visit options are also available to all new and current patients.