What to bring and how to prepare for your appointment.
On your first visit, expect to interact with multiple doctors. Appointments can be completed very quickly, so it helps to be well-prepared. Write down your health information (as indicated below) and bring these lists to your appointment.
If possible, try to:
- Make a list of symptoms you’re experiencing: This is helpful to practitioners when they are reviewing your health information, and allows them to make informed medical decisions on your behalf. Remember to include any symptoms that may seem unrelated to the reason you made the appointment; and make note of when symptoms started. Also, note whether symptoms have improved, worsened, or stayed the same since they started. It is best to write these things down rather than making a list “in your head.”
- Make a list of your medications: Include how much you are taking and at what time(s) of the day. Write down any recent changes to your dosages, as well as any side effects you may have experienced. Remember to include information about:
- Herbal and vitamin supplements
- Pain relievers and sleep aids (including over-the-counter)
- Nasal sprays
- “Health” drinks, such as special teas or juices
- Medications you only take on an as-needed basis
These are also considered part of your medication profile and may impact your treatment plan. Be sure to include these items as well. Bring the bottles with you if you cannot make an up-to-date list of these items.
- Bring your medical records, if you can: We’ll do everything we can to have up-to-date information about your history, but sometimes we are unable to obtain everything. We are conscious of the need to limit radiation exposure through multiple radiology tests, so we try not to repeat testing you have already had, if it can be avoided. If you have had a recent chest X-ray, scan, or test, outside of the University of Florida and Shands HealthCare system, try and bring the images or results to your appointment as well.
- Make a list of important personal information: This might include any recent life changes or sources of stress in your life.
- Bring a trusted friend or family member, if you can: Bringing someone along to your appointments can be quite helpful. You may receive a lot of information in a very short time. You may also feel nervous or have a hard time remembering what you were told in your appointment; or have difficulty remembering to relay key information to your health care team. A loved one or friend may remember details that you missed or forgot.
- Observe any pre-appointment instructions: For instance, when your appointments are made, you may be asked to restrict your food and drink intake on the morning of your visit. Fasting, or remaining “NPO,” is sometimes required before certain tests. Be sure to clarify any advance instructions with the lung cancer coordinator or program representative before your visit.
- Make a list of questions to ask:It may be difficult to remember all your questions when you are face-to-face with your doctor. It helps to have your questions written down for easy reference. Some common questions you might have:
- What type of cancer do I have?
- What is the stage of my cancer?
- Has the cancer spread to any other parts of my body?
- Will I need more tests?
- Will I need to have surgery?
- What are my treatment options?
- Can my cancer be cured with these treatment options?
- What side effects might I experience?
- What will happen if I don’t receive _____ treatment?
- How can I manage my symptoms?
- Will my insurance cover my treatments?
- Where can I read more about what we have discussed?
Also remember that you can ask questions anytime during your appointment if you don’t understand something you’re told. This is the best time for you to get your concerns addressed.
Remember, our goal is to help you get the right treatment for your cancer as soon as possible. Having this information prepared will help us plan the most appropriate course of action for your situation. You will be helping us make the right medical choices, while also reducing delays in your treatment decisions.