New Cancer Center! - The New Kid On The Block
Just like a child starting a new school, starting treatment at a new cancer center can be exciting as well as nerve-wracking. Where is everything? What are the rules? Which nurses will give you extra cans of those adorable Shasta ginger ale? There are so many unknowns when you are the "New Kid On The Block"...
Start with the Social Worker
Each cancer center typically has a team of oncology social workers assigned to new patients. These are akin to a guidance counselor at school. Social workers are a treasure because their job is to help you get settled into your new center. They can also provide you with a variety of resources. This can vary from center to center, but you can expect help in different ways from financial assistance applications, therapy, arranging rides to and from appointments, and many other things.
Introduce Yourself To The Office Staff
The office staff will be able to perform miracles for you! Maybe you need a last-minute appointment, or you are stuck in traffic. Perhaps you need a referral or need your medical records sent over. Whatever the case, the office staff truly keeps the whole operation running. It is worth properly introducing yourself to the office staff at your new cancer center. This is especially true if you have any special circumstances they should be made aware of.
Meet Your New Medical Team
When it comes to their team, a lot of patients have tunnel-vision when it comes to their oncologist being their primary caretaker. Don’t forget that there are other medical professionals who will care for you, too! Your new team will be comprised of multiple people, all with different roles. Most oncologists have medical assistants and nurses assigned to them. One of them will walk you back to the exam room, take your vitals, and access your port (if you have one). The next person you see will be your oncologist, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner. If you are receiving treatment, you will be sent to the infusion center. There you will meet you new infusion nurses. They differ from office nurses in that they are specially trained to administer chemotherapy and other advanced medicines.
Learning The Ropes Of The Infusion Center
Not all infusion centers are created equally. Does your new center serve snacks and drinks? Is there a cafe, can you order food, or should you bring your own? Your new cancer center may simply have their infusion chairs in an open room, or you may have your own private area. All infusion centers typically provide you with a pillow and a warm blanket, and a chair or two for guests.
Whatever your reasons for changing cancer centers, it can definitely add an extra element of stress to your life as you get acclimated. It may not be easy being the "New Kid On The Block" at your new cancer center, but you will settle into your new environment before you know it...with a fantastic new team that has your back!
How old were you when you were diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer?