What to Expect During Your First Doctor's Visit for Multiple Myeloma
Use these 7 tips to prepare for your appointment.
By Michele Bloomquist
Medically Reviewed by Sanjai Sinha, MD
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Perhaps you've been fatigued and thirsty, have bone pain in the ribs or back; maybe you are getting frequent infections and fevers. Whatever your symptoms, it's been suggested that you might have multiple myeloma and you’re now facing your first doctor's visit to find out.
The emotions provoked by the possibile diagnosis of multiple myeloma are complex and intense. You may feel afraid, confused, anxious, or angry, or you may be numb. The following tips from the American Cancer Society, the International Myeloma Foundation, and others can help you replace fear with a feeling of empowerment at this first doctor's appointment.
Don't put it off. Denial can be a powerful force. You may feel that you want to put off the appointment or cancel it at the last minute. Such feelings are normal, but not in your best interest. If you do have myeloma, going to the doctor will allow you and your physician to start developing a treatment plan. If you do not have it, you will be able to rule it out as the cause of your symptoms and continue trying to get to the bottom of what's happening with your health.
Be prepared. It is likely that you will be asked to bring along or send over the results of previous tests that have led doctors to suspect you might have multiple myeloma, such as blood work, urine tests, and X-rays. If you haven't been provided with a list of items needed, ask for one. Other things to be sure to bring include your insurance information; any forms you have been asked to fill out in advance; information about your general medical history; the names, phone numbers, and addresses of your emergency contact person and primary care physician; a list of the medications you are taking and the dosages; money for your co-payment; and a list of any questions you have, along with a pen and paper to write down the answers.
Include another set of ears. If possible, ask a family member or friend whom you trust and feel comfortable with to accompany you to the appointment. That person’s presence will be a source of support for you, and he or she can act as a second set of ears, listening to what is being said, taking notes if needed, and helping you to later remember and understand anything you may have missed about your diagnosis.
Talk about how you're feeling. If you are feeling anxious or nervous before your appointment, it may help to talk about it, either with friends and family or online via cancer support groups, chat groups, or message boards. Bottling up your emotions is likely to increase, not decrease, these feelings.
Remember that every case is different. If you research multiple myeloma before your appointment, keep in mind that the progression of your illness and the required treament can vary greatly from person to person. If you read, for example, about a multiple myeloma patient who needs a stem cell transplant, that does not mean you will need one, even if it turns out that you have myeloma. Also remember that the information you find may be misleading or even untrue if it does not come from a credible source. Double-check any information you find with your doctor.
Be prepared for more testing. Remember that your doctor may not be able to tell you if you have myeloma at the visit. He or she may need additional information or request further testing and ask you to schedule a follow-up visit for the results. Knowing this may help you avoid being disappointed if you don't received a definitive answer at the first appointment.
Reach out. Have questions? Need to talk? Want more information? The American Cancer Society's National Cancer Information Center has trained volunteer counselors available by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week to speak with you about your concerns. Call toll-free: 1-800-227-2345.
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