Receiving a cancer diagnosis is overwhelming. It can be a scary time, with overwhelming amounts of information, and lots of questions running through your mind. It’s common for recently diagnosed patients to feel helpless. You’re not alone. We’ve been there.
Questions that run through your mind after a cancer diagnosis may include:
- How can I learn more about my cancer diagnosis?
- What is Comprehensive Molecular Profiling (or Molecular Testing), and how can it help me?
- What do I do next?
- Can I get a second opinion of my cancer diagnosis?
- What resources are available to me?
- What questions should I be asking my oncologist?
- How can I cope with my fear around my cancer diagnosis?
SURVIVEiT is made up of medical experts, cancer survivors, patients and caregivers who are using their experience to help people like you. Click on a question above to get resources to help give you peace of mind and actionable steps to take.
How can I learn more about my cancer diagnosis?
Getting a thorough diagnosis is an important first step after your cancer diagnosis. Getting a biopsy (solid or blood) is only the beginning to getting a complete diagnosis.
We know a lot more about cancer than we did 5-10 years ago. Thanks to research and advancements, a cancer diagnosis goes well beyond where they found the cancer in your body.
Getting information about the whole picture and a clear understanding of your cancer diagnosis is important so you are able to advocate for yourself and make informed decisions about your treatment options.
Our Cancer Navigation Tool offers 5-step personalized planning, including the first step which can help you understand which tests could help you and your team fill in the blanks. It will also help you learn more about Comprehensive Molecular Profiling, and put together a step-by-step action plan to pursue the testing (connecting you with labs). You can create an account to keep track of your progress, and to-do list, in our Navigation Tool.
What is Comprehensive Molecular Profiling (or Molecular Testing), and how can it help me?
You may have heard about Comprehensive Molecular Profiling, or maybe this is the first time you’ve come across the term. It’s also known as Biomarker Testing, Next Generation Sequencing, or Molecular Testing.
Mycancer.com explains molecular profiling: “By using molecular profiling to detect specific biomarkers in your tumor, doctors can save time by choosing the most effective therapy for you.
When a sample from your tumor undergoes molecular profiling, your oncologist receives a report that lists the genetic and molecular biomarkers that make up your tumor. This unique information can help your oncologist personalize your treatment plan by predicting which treatments your cancer is likely to respond to.”
SURVIVEiT recommends comprehensive molecular profiling because it’s important to check for ALL known cancer-related biomarkers, not just the well-known ones. Use our Cancer Navigation Tool to connect with labs.
Possible outcomes of comprehensive molecular profiling can include:
- You have one or more gene abnormalities that can be treated with an FDA approved targeted therapy.
- You have a gene abnormality that cannot be treated with an FDA approved targeted therapy.
- You have a gene abnormality that may respond better to surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. You should discuss this as part of your treatment strategy.
- You have a gene abnormality that doesn’t yet have a matching targeted therapy. In this case, most doctors will suggest what is known as the “standard of care.”
What can I do next?
No matter where you are in your cancer journey, we recommend using our brand new Cancer Navigation Tool. It’s a five-step interactive guide made by survivors just for you. We wanted something that would help us in our decision-making throughout the entire process so we built this tool. The five steps involve: getting a thorough diagnosis, getting an expert’s second opinion, being part of the decision-making process, side effect management, and managing everything “outside” of treatment using our curated resource library. Having said that, you may also have a lot of doubts regarding what treatment option to opt for. Whether it is chemotherapy, radiation (find out more here), some sort of surgery, or ablation, your doctor could give you an idea on what might work well for you.
Can I get a second opinion of my cancer diagnosis?
Getting a second opinion of your cancer diagnosis is a great way to give yourself peace of mind. It’s one of the top recommendations we make at SURVIVEiT . Having an expert in your unique cancer review your case is an action you can take to advocate for yourself and it can leave you feeling more comfortable that you are getting the best possible treatment available to you.
If you’re nervous about offending your doctor, don’t be. Getting a qualified second opinion can literally be the difference between life and death, and potentially, very different treatment options. A second opinion can open the door to possibilities and options that another cancer center might be able to offer you. What most people don’t realize is that different doctors and cancer centers can have different approaches to treating cancer.
Here’s our guide to getting a remote second opinion.
We’ve also created a tool that makes it easy for you to connect with lung cancer experts. Use our tool to search for experts and get their contact information.
Possible outcomes from getting a second opinion are:
- You learn about a different, potentially better, treatment option.
- You get confirmation (and peace of mind) that what your first doctor recommended is the best option.
What resources are available to me?
After a cancer diagnosis, you might be overwhelmed by the amount of information available to you online and at your treatment center. How do you know which are useful? Where do you begin? Our team of medical professionals and cancer survivors created a vetted resource library to help you find useful resources. From questions to ask your oncologist, to books, prayers, scriptures and apps, to questions to help you weigh your options, our Resource Library has information cancer patients and survivors have found helpful.
Our Cancer Navigation Tool is also a free resource that can help you throughout your cancer journey. It’s an easy-to-use planning tool designed to help you achieve better outcomes. Within it, you’ll find a survivor-vetted resources throughout each of the five steps, including videos, a plan summary, and a dedicated Resource Library to help you manage “everything else” about cancer (finances, nutrition, legal, logistics, books, and more).
And it’s all free.
What questions should I be asking my oncologist?
With all these questions flying through your mind, it can be hard to focus. You may feel overwhelmed when you meet with your oncologist and not be quite sure what questions to ask. We’ve created a list of the important questions you should ask (and put them on a printable sheet that you can take along with you to your appointment). Find 21 Questions To Ask Your Oncologist here.
How can I cope with my fear around my cancer diagnosis?
It’s common for a cancer diagnosis to leave you feeling helpless and afraid. That’s why our vision is a world free from the fear of cancer. We want to empower you to define your journey. Along with our Cancer Navigation Tool, one of the resources we offer is ways to help you Find Hope. Our Survivor Advisory Council members have recommended prayers, scriptures and smartphone apps that they have found helpful throughout their individual cancer journeys.