Working with your healthcare team

Your healthcare team isn’t just made up of your doctors and nurses—loved ones and friends may also want to play a part in your healthcare support. Here are some tips on how to work with them better.

Know who is on your team

Know who is on your team

You likely already have a healthcare team. It’s made up of all the people who are helping you through your treatment. They may include:

  • Your primary care doctor who focuses on your general health
  • An oncologist who is trained to diagnose and treat your cancer
  • A urologist who treats problems of your urinary system
  • An oncology nurse who provides you with treatment education and support
  • An oncology social worker who is specially trained to support you during cancer treatment
  • A patient navigator who can help guide you through the medical process
  • Your family and friends who help you throughout treatment
Let people help you out

Let people help. And help them back.

Your friends and family want to help, but they need direction from you. To get started:

  • Talk with them about your current challenges
  • Ask them for help with specific tasks
  • Thank them for what they do

Remember, too, that this is an emotional journey for them as well as you. They may be frustrated that they can’t help you as much as they’d like. They may be stressed at any changes in roles. Children may feel scared or confused. But while tough times can strain relationships, such challenges can strengthen them, too. Talking it all out can be a great way to keep everyone staying positive and feeling connected and provide you with the best healthcare support.

Ask questions

If you have questions, ask them

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your doctor and nurse want you to take an active role in your treatment. And one way to do that is by learning all you can about your treatment.

Here are a few questions to ask your doctor during upcoming visits:

Before starting treatment:

  • What do we currently know about my cancer (stage, size, spread, etc)?
  • What is the goal of treatment at this point in time?
  • What treatment do you recommend? Why?
  • How long will the treatment last?
  • How much will SUTENT cost?
  • How will I pay for treatment if I don’t have insurance for the SUTENT cost?
  • How will I feel during treatment? Are there side effects I should be aware of?
  • Should I seek a second opinion?
  • Is there a way to get a hold of you after hours if I need to?

When starting SUTENT:

  • How does SUTENT work?
  • What SUTENT side effects should I expect?
  • What side effects or changes should I tell you about right away?
  • Can some SUTENT side effects be managed?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose of SUTENT?
  • How can you tell if the treatment is working?
  • Do I need to make any lifestyle changes while taking SUTENT? For example, diet or exercise changes.
Work with your healthcare team

Work with your healthcare team

It’s important to make the most of your doctor visits. Here are 3 tips to help you get organized and be prepared:

  • Keep track. In a journal, note your other medicines, questions you have, and experiences with your condition and treatment. This can help you to share everything that you need to with your healthcare team
  • Speak up. Be sure your healthcare team knows when you have questions or need more information
  • Keep contacts handy. To save time, put the direct office numbers and e-mail addresses for your doctors and nurses all in one place