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Patient Information: What to Expect After a Cancer Diagnosis

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You’ve already been through one difficult experience: the cancer diagnosis. You know what a gut-wrenching, life-changing situation it was. But now you may be wondering what’s next – what can you expect from the doctor’s appointments, treatment procedures, side effects and more? If you’re worried about any of these items, Hunt Regional is here to set you at ease.

At the Lou & Jack Finney Cancer Center, we are proud to have the nation's largest network of medical professionals dedicated solely to the treatment of cancer and blood disorders. As you begin this journey, remember that you are not alone. We have worked with numerous patients who have been in your shoes, and we will be by your side every step of the way.

If you’re wondering what’s to come, it’s important to find answers to some of the questions you may be asking. These are questions that millions of other cancer patients like you have asked and are wondering as we speak. Knowing the answers can help you plan for the next steps following your cancer diagnosis.

Does this mean I’m going to die?

This is a common question many cancer patients ask. However, the American Cancer Society tells us that the prognosis for a large number of cancer patients is good and many types of cancer can be treated. Specifically, there are more than 14 million people living in the U.S. today who were once diagnosed with cancer. So the answer is no, a cancer diagnosis does not always mean you are going to die. But you should talk to your oncologist for a more precise prognosis.

Is treatment going to work?

This is often one of the first thoughts a cancer patient has after a cancer diagnosis. Going through cancer treatments is a huge challenge – but will it work? As mentioned above, millions of Americans have been through cancer treatments and have lived to tell about it. But the answer to this question depends on your specific type of cancer, its stage and your doctor’s treatment plan.

How do I tell people I have cancer?

This is a worry that crosses the minds of many people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Cancer affects entire families, not just the person diagnosed. Despite this, you may feel alone. It’s important to confide in your loved ones from the very beginning and tell them how you feel. Be open and honest with them. At the same time, urge your family and friends to be open and honest with you. Sometimes loved ones of cancer patients try to act like everything is fine, even when it’s not. If this bothers you, tell them. Let your loved ones know how you feel (emotionally and physically) and allow them to give you support.

What should I ask my cancer doctor?

Whatever questions you may be wondering about your cancer diagnosis and treatment, write them down and bring them with you to your next doctor’s appointment. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have. If you’re not sure what to ask, here are a few examples:doctor discussing diagnosis

  • Where is my cancer located, and what stage is it? What does that stage mean?
  • Do I need any additional tests before I start treatment?
  • What is the prognosis for my cancer?
  • What’s the goal of the treatment you’re suggesting? Why?
  • What can I expect from treatment side effects? Will any of them be permanent? For instance, will I be able to have children after treatment?
  • Are there any clinical trials or other treatments I should consider?
  • How long will treatment last?

Do I have to take time off from my job?

Since your treatment plan can vary in length and difficulty, the answer to this question is best sought from your doctor. He/she will know your specific treatment plan and will be able to discuss the probability for side effects that may make it difficult to work. Ask your doctor if you’re unsure about this question.

How will I pay for all of this?

The financial implications are one problem that many cancer patients face. You may be worried about the financial aspect of this health dilemma and how much it will cost. Again, the answer to this depends on your specific treatment plan, how long it lasts, what’s involved, etc. However, oftentimes health insurance can cover a decent portion of cancer treatments. Consider consulting your health insurance provider to ask about cancer treatment costs, what’s covered and how your plan works.

At Hunt Regional specifically, we accept many of the major insurance plans. You can view the full list of in-network and out-of-network health insurance companies here.