Communicating with Your Health Care Team
About Metastatic Melanoma
Talking openly with your health care team is essential. That’s why it is so important to find the right doctor – someone who sees and treats melanoma often and with whom you feel comfortable and confident.
Don’t be shy about asking questions or sharing concerns. Studies have shown that people who take an active role in their care by partnering with their health care team not only maintain a sense of control, but they also tend to function better than those who don’t.
“Communication with your health care team is vital to managing your melanoma and the unique side effects of new drug therapies.” --Oncology Nurse
Making the Most of Your Appointments
Try to get organized before each appointment. Write down any questions you have, and think about information your doctor may be interested in knowing about to help give you the best care.
For example, be prepared to talk about:
1) What worries you most. Write down and talk about your main concerns.
2) Your symptoms. Are they:
- About the same
- Different in some way or do you have new symptoms since your last appointment
Take Note Tip: Don’t wait to talk with your doctor until your next scheduled visit if something changes – especially if you start getting new symptoms or if you feel badly.
How your cancer or cancer-related treatments might be interfering with your life.
Are there things in your life that you can no longer do because of how you feel? For example, sleep, eat, exercise, fulfill work obligations, think clearly or be sexually intimate/close with your partner.
If you need more support.
Tell your doctor or nurse if you are feeling isolated or need more support, if getting to appointments is a challenge or if there are other issues that might be making treatment harder on you. Some hospitals and practices have patient navigators or social workers who may be able to help.
What you are doing to track or manage side effects like extreme tiredness, pain or upset stomach.
Be sure to share what is important to you too. Is there an upcoming family event that you'd like to attend or trip you want to take?
“Treatment has to fit patients’ lives so they can lead as normal a life as possible and stay engaged with things they love.”
--Michael Postow, MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Always Report New Symptoms
Patients should have regular checkups with their doctor to find any new melanomas early. They should examine their skin monthly.
Take Note Tip: Even if your treatment is working now, you may need to reassess your options at some point. Partner with your health care team so they know how you are doing and can make changes if need be.