A diagnosis of cancer is frightening. Many people feel helpless or want to rush headlong into action. In either case, some find themselves following treatment plans they barely understand. Slowing down and utilizing a few strategies for making the most of a medical appointment can be useful and calming, especially when the outcome of a health care decision will have significant impact.


Preparing for the Appointment 


  • When scheduling, let your provider know if you have special needs, such as hearing or language. You may want to bring an interpreter or a support person to the appointment. Let your provider know ahead of time.
  • Read all of the paperwork that your provider sends, and check with your provider’s office to make certain they’ve received all test results.
  • Write down a list of questions. Bring the list with you (or drop it off at the office beforehand).
  • Organize your paperwork. Keep it in a binder or folder, and bring it with you. Include: test results, insurance information (including a copy of your card), medical history, current medications, contact information of all of your doctors, a calendar of appointments, appointments notes, etc.
  • Ask someone who is a good listener and note-taker to be your support person and to attend the appointment with you. Beforehand, discuss with this person how they can help.
  • Bring a recording device. (Ahead of time, ask your provider if you may record your session.)


At the Appointment


  • Introduce yourself and the people with you.
  • Remind the provider that you will be recording the session.
  • Discuss all medications that you are taking, including: herbs, vitamins, home remedies, etc.
  • Ask about treatment options. (Keep an open mind about the information provided.)
  • Ask the questions on your list and any additional questions that arise. Make certain that you understand the answers.
  • Find out whom to call if you have additional questions after you leave.
  • Ask what comes next. When is your next appointment? What tests do you need? Why are you doing this treatment?




  • Review the information with your support person. (Read over the notes and/or listen to the recording. Make sure you understand everything. Write a list of additional questions (if you have any), and call the provider’s office for answers.
  • Put any papers that you received into your health binder.
  • Remember, if you feel uncertain about information, you have the option of getting a second opinion from a different health care provider.



 2016 Cancer Awareness and Prevention Campaign


Presented by the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County in collaboration with the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency.

The Cancer Resource Centers mission is to improve the quality of life for those in Mendocino County faced with cancer.



Coastal Office: 45040 Calpella Street, Mendocino, CA 95460 | (707) 937-3833

Inland Office: 590 South Dora Street, Ukiah, CA 95482 | (707) 467-3828

Health and Human Services Agency | (707) 472-2333