After a kidney cancer diagnosis, it may seem that your world has been turned upside down. A million questions are most likely running through your head, the majority of which you cannot answer at the moment.
What will happen to me and my family?
How will I get through this and live a normal life?
Will I get through this?
What does this diagnosis even mean?
How much is going to change for me?
Will anything stay the same?
The good news is many people have been exactly where you are right now and can help you through the process of coping with this information. The best thing to do is start gathering information about your health in general and kidney cancer from your doctor so you can begin making decisions and move forward. If you have no idea where to start, here is a list of questions that may be helpful as you begin this process.
- What kind of kidney cancer do I have? There isn’t just one type of kidney cancer so understanding what is happening with your diagnosis in particular will be the first step to getting a handle on your disease.
- What are my treatment options? It will undoubtedly be overwhelming to get a full list of options right away, but knowing that you have options can be a comfort to many. When you get the full list, you can start asking additional questions as you go. But get your full list first so that you understand the treatment options that are available for your particular situation.
- What risks and side effects from the treatments should I be aware of? Every course of treatment will have a different impact on you in one form or another. Make a list of what you should be prepared for that is considered “normal” and those symptoms that fall outside this list that require a call to your doctor immediately.
- What should I do to be ready for treatment? Ask questions about your nutritional habits, exercise patterns and typical sleep schedule and how these might impact your treatment plan. Does anything need to change? Do you need to make changes in your habits while undergoing treatment?
- After treatment, what type(s) of follow up will I need to be aware of? Your initial treatment plan may not be the only one you’ll have to follow. How often will you need to be evaluated after treatment to watch for a recurrence of cancer? What medication will you need to take and how often?
- What resources do you recommend I look into that can help me? There are many resources available online on kidney cancer, including information from the American Cancer Society. Be sure to ask your doctor what they recommend you read and follow. Not all online sources are reliable and a lot of it may just scare you. Listen to your doctor’s recommendations to get started on doing your own research and take charge of your health.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of questions and as you ask more, more will come up. But don’t keep quiet. If you have a question, speak up. Your health depends on it.