Your first appointment with the oncology consultant can be daunting, you may have a lot of concerns or questions about what is going to be discussed with you. Remember that the Seamoor Unit staff and your Clinical Nurse Specialist are here to help.
They will do their best to answer those questions and enable you to understand what your treatment options are and what they will mean to your daily life.
You will usually be seen in the Seamoor Unit in a clinic dedicated to the type of cancer you have. Some patients may be seen in other units for instance if you have cancer of the head & neck you may need to go to RD&E.
After checking in at the reception desk, you will be asked to take a seat and wait to be called. Before your appointment a member of staff will take you through to a side room to do some preliminary checks such as your weight and blood pressure before asking you to return to the main waiting area. Your doctor will come out to the waiting area to call you in for your consultation. This will take place in a clinic room off the waiting area and the meeting will be to discuss your case in detail. They may be accompanied by other medical members of the team including your specialist nurse. You are encouraged to bring a partner or family member to the initial appointment as you will be given a lot of information in a short period of time which you may need help to process.
As well as talking about your diagnosis and potential treatment options, you will also be given written information and guidance. Please let us know if you need information in other forms like large print or specific languages. It’s Important that you have information that is useful to you.
We hope this section helps you prepare for that first appointment and eases some concerns.
The following tips have been designed to help you get the most out of your outpatient appointment:
- Write done your two or three most important questions.
- List or bring all your medication and pills – including vitamins and supplements.
- Write down details of your symptoms, including when they started and what makes them better or worse.
- Ask your hospital or surgery for an interpreter or communication support if needed.
- Ask a friend or family member to come with you, if you like.
- Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand. For example, ‘can you say that again?’ I still don’t understand’
- If you don’t understand any words, ask for them to be written down and explained.
- Write things down, or ask a family member or friend to take notes.
- You have covered everything on your list
- You understand, for example ‘can I just check I understood what you have said?’
- You know what should happen next – and when. Write it down.
- Who to contact if you have any more problems or questions
- About support groups and where to go for reliable information
- For copies of letters written about you – you are entitled to see these.
- Write down what you discussed and what happens next.
- Book any tests that you can and put dates in your diary.
- ‘what’s happening if I’m not sent my appointment details,’
- ‘Can I have the results of any tests?’ (If you don’t get the results when you expect – ask for them.) Ask what the results mean.
You have a right to know all aspects of your treatment- remember that knowledge is power!
End of life care includes palliative care but palliative care isn’t just for the end of life. You may receive palliative care earlier in your illness while you are still receiving other therapies to treat your condition.
If you have an illness that can’t be cured, palliative care makes you as comfortable as possible, by managing your pain and other distressing symptoms. It also involves psychological, social and spiritual support for you and your family or carers. Please click on the link to visit the NDDH Supportive and Palliative Care Team’s information page HERE.
Within the scope of the ‘End of Life’ guide legal issues are covered to help you plan ahead for your future care. These include creating a lasting power of attorney, so that the person or people of your choice can make decisions about your care if you are no longer able to do so yourself .
If you are in this situation the Supportive and Palliative Care team aims to provide support to you and your loved ones so that people who are approaching the end of life are entitled to high quality care wherever they are being cared for.
End of life care should help you to live as well as possible until you die, and to die with dignity. The people providing your care should ask you about your wishes and preferences and take these into account as they work with you to plan your care. They should also support your family, carers, or other people who are important to you.
Advance care planning should be considered at any stage of life, not just with a diagnosis of a life-limiting condition. Many people in good health make their own funeral arrangements, make wills and create lasting power of attorney as a matter of course. They do this to make sure their wishes for treatment and future care are carried out should their physical or mental capacity prevent them from doing this. There are several guides to help you do this including the one from Macmillan. Please click on the link and it will take you to the relevant page on the website.