Beating cancer is a journey, we are here to help
Whether you have been diagnosed with cancer or are a family member of someone that has, the Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center is here to help. Deciding where to start can be confusing and stressful. Whether you’re looking for a referral to a cancer specialist; want more information about your specific type of cancer; are seeking a second opinion; or are in need of support services for you or a family member, we’ll help you find your way.
The Community Cancer Center works collaboratively with multiple specialists to assure you receive timely, individualized care. We provide a vast array of services to support you through every phase of your care.
Please feel free to have a family member or friend accompany you during your visits, whether for an appointment, diagnostic test or treatment.
My Care was specially designed for newly diagnosed cancer patients and their families (caregivers), and serves as a primer to establishing your individualized treatment plan and support services. In collaboration with our partners, a multidisciplinary team of specialists, care coordinators, and support professionals focus on educating newly diagnosed cancer patients about the continuum of services available, including diagnostic, research, treatment, support and survivorship.
Beating cancer is a journey – and no two journeys are alike. We work with each patient to connect them to the best resources, here or anywhere, to fight their cancer. If you or a loved one is newly diagnosed with cancer, you’re not alone. Get connected to our cancer specialists. For more information, call (319) 558-4876 and ask to speak to a Cancer Care Coordinator.
Questions to ask
It’s important to have open, honest discussions with your cancer doctor and support team, but you may not know what questions you should be asking. We’ve listed some of the most common questions for starting conversations.
Questions to ask about your cancer
- Do you typically treat patients with my diagnosis?
- What stage is my cancer?
- Is there anything unique about my cancer that makes my prognosis better or worse?
- Should I get a second opinion?
Questions to ask about tests
- How frequently will I get the tests?
- Will I need x-rays and scans?
- Are there tests for the genetic make-up of my cancer?
Questions to ask about cancer treatment options
- What is the goal of treatment?
- What are my treatment options?
- How can each treatment option help me achieve my goal of therapy?
- What risks or potential side effects are associated with each treatment?
- What research studies (“clinical trials”) are available?
- How often will I receive treatment and where?
- How will it be given?
- How will I know if the treatment is working?
- What are the names of all the drugs I will be taking?
- Can I talk with another of your patients who has received this treatment?
- Are there any resources or Web sites you recommend for more information?
Questions to ask about treatment side effects
- What possible side effects should I prepare for?
- When might they start?
- Will they get better or worse as my treatment goes along?
- How can I prepare for them or lessen their impact?
- Are there treatments that can help relieve the side effects? What are they? Do you usually recommend or prescribe them?
- Which risks are most serious?
- How can I best monitor myself for complications related to either my disease or my treatment?
- Can I help protect myself against infection right from the start of chemotherapy, instead of waiting until problems develop?
- What are the signs of infection?
- What should I do if I have a fever?
- How are infections treated?
Questions to ask about daily activities
- How will my cancer treatment affect my usual activities?
- Will I be able to work?
- Will I need to stay in the hospital?
- Will I need someone to help me at home?
- Will I need help taking care of my kids?
- How do I tell the kids? Click here for an online resource.
- Support is available for you from our licensed counselor with a specialized certification to work with cancer patients and their families. She will provide emotional support to help you and your family cope with the changes in your lives, including addressing the specific support needs of your family caregivers and children/teens to improve your quality of life. She can also help connect you to community resources, address financial concerns and assist you with advance directives.
- Are there any activities I should avoid during my chemotherapy?
Questions to ask about what to expect after treatment
- What happens after I complete my treatment?
- How can I best continue to monitor myself for complications related to either my disease or my treatment?
- What types of x-rays and scans will I need?
- How often do I need to come in for checkups?
- How will you know if I am cured?
- What happens if my disease comes back?
Should you get a second opinion?
A second opinion is an important part of becoming educated about your cancer and your treatment options. The more you can learn, the better chance you have of receiving the most appropriate treatment. Cancers are now more treatable than they once were, but there are also many more treatment options and more complicated procedures. Getting a second opinion will help you understand these options and help you make an informed decision about which is best for you.
Will I offend my doctor?
Second opinions are a common practice in any area of medicine that is complex and that has multiple treatment options available. Your request will not offend competent physicians. In fact, most physicians welcome the opportunity to have another consultant review and approve their care decisions, or perhaps suggest another treatment that may be better. For you, a second opinion can provide reassurance to you and your family and ultimately allow you to receive the most appropriate therapy.
How do I get a second opinion?
Your Care Coordinator or physician can initiate the process of getting a second opinion. If you decide to get a second opinion, it is important to let your physician know. You should also let the new physician know what you are looking for in seeking a second opinion. Are you simply wishing for a confirmation of the recommended treatment? Are you interested in learning about other options? Looking to learn more about clinical trials? Also be sure and check with your insurance provider to determine coverage. Also, call the new cancer specialist to see if they accept your insurance type.
Who should get a second opinion?
There are clearly situations where a second opinion would be helpful and most patients would benefit. These may include:
- A poorly understood or communicated diagnosis. Patients who feel that they may not fully understand the diagnosis and their treatment options should consider a second opinion.
- An initial diagnosis by a non-cancer specialist or a cancer sub-specialist. Patients who have been diagnosed by a non-cancer specialist or a physician not specializing in your type of cancer can benefit from a second opinion.
- Apparent lack of treatment options. A second opinion can be useful in some patients who are told that there is no appropriate treatment for their cancer and that there is no hope of survival or relief of symptoms from the cancer.
- Rare cancers. When dealing with a rare cancer, it is usually best to seek a second opinion, unless the diagnosis is made at a center that specializes in the treatment of this cancer.