Get a Notebook
Medical appointments are hectic. Often times you are meeting with several people and covering many different issues in what feels like a rush. I know my oncologist can seem like she is "go mode" during our appointments - that is where my notebook always comes into play.
As I've previously covered, I always bring my medical binder and notebook with me to each and every appointment.
It helps keep me organized and on track to make the most of the time with my medical team.
Organizing questions for your cancer
In my notebook, I write down every single question or topic I want to cover with my team. Plus, I take subsequent notes of whatever I'm told that day.
I then make a point to document symptoms with times and dates, and follow-up questions I think of between appointments. I do my best to keep notes of my personal cancer experience.
Finding patterns or cycles
Detailed and dated notes allow me to not only tell my doctor about any strange symptoms or pain I've experienced but also a timeline in relation to any treatment or procedures.
It helps us dial into causes and quickly pinpoints where problems are occurring. The historical notes have been a huge help in finding patterns or cycles of when "weird" things happen.
Taking notes during appointments has made it possible for me to refer back to things we have discussed before. Because let's be honest, my team is great, but I am one of many patients. They cannot remember every tiny detail of what we have planned or talked through before.
When the doctor mentions referrals, scheduling future procedures, or even lab numbers we want to revisit at my next appointment. My notes keep us both on the same page from visit to visit.
Modifying your record-keeping
What if you aren't a quick writer or need a little help keeping up the conversation? I would definitely recommend a voice recorder. These days they are small and even come with transcription software to convert the conversation to text on your computer.
Check with your team first, but in my experience, the majority of facilities do not mind the use of a recorder. This can also be a fantastic way to make quit memos of your own thoughts or questions when you don't want to carry a notebook with you everywhere.
Get a notebook and organize based on YOUR cancer needs
However you decide to take notes or track your symptoms, I cannot stress enough how valuable it is to set up your own system and use it!
Oncology appointments are jam-packed and even the savviest cancer patient can forget important questions they meant to ask or forget an important piece of the symptom puzzle when trying to solve problems.
Have you taken our In America Survey yet?