The Mighty Logo

19 Helpful Questions to Ask After a Leukemia or Cancer Diagnosis

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

When a person hears the words, “You have leukemia,” or any other type of cancer or illness, it is often the beginning of a frightening and unexpected journey. If you are anything like me, once those words have sunk deeply into your brain, you will want to do everything in your power to ensure you are receiving the best possible treatment and care for your disease.

I have chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), a rare form of leukemia treated by a medical professional who specializes in CML. CML is a chronic cancer, meaning it is currently controlled by medication, as opposed to being traditionally cured. It is a beast, all on its own. It sets up shop in your bone marrow and acts like an “on” switch for the production of white blood cells — white blood cells that eventually take over your bloodstream unless the switch is turned off. This is where your oncologist comes into play and why it is so important to choose a hematological oncologist who is familiar with CML. For me, rapport is the key. I do not wish to feel intimidated or rushed with my doctor. I want to feel as though my input is considered and respected. I want to be able to trust my physician and be able to question him as well. I also want to be able to reach my physician in case of an emergency or a panic attack!

Regardless of the type of illness or disease you may have, your physician will likely be a part of the rest of your life… so choose wisely. Many people are under the impression that they have few options when selecting a doctor. They don’t realize it is their prerogative to choose a doctor who is a good fit for them. They don’t know how to “doctor shop” and do not know what to ask a prospective physician. They revere a doctor’s word as law and often continue to employ a doctor even though they are uncomfortable.

When diagnosed with cancer, people often have little knowledge of what their future holds. They are scared, confused and don’t know what to do or where to start. Here are some helpful questions I recommend asking if you have been diagnosed with CML or another type of cancer.

Questions for Your Doctor

1. In which stage was my chronic myelogenous leukemia (cancer) diagnosed?
2. What are my treatment choices?
3. What are the expected benefits for each treatment?
4. What are the risks involved in each treatment?
5. What are the side effects of each treatment?
6. How will these treatments affect my daily life?
7. How will these treatments affect my overall well-being?
8. Should I consider clinical trials?
9. Which clinical trials are available to me?
10. What are the chances of my cancer progressing to a more serious stage?
11. What are my chances of being cured?
12. What are the chances of me developing another type of cancer due to treatment?
13. What changes should I make in my current lifestyle?
14. Should I follow a specific diet?
15. Am I allowed to ingest over the counter medication along with my treatment?
16. What symptoms and/or side effects should I report to you?
17. What is your experience with CML (your disease)?
18. What is the protocol in communicating with you?
19. Do you believe that you and I have the rapport that will best serve my medical needs?

Photo submitted by contributor: noipornpan/Getty Images

Originally published: November 26, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home