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Take a deep breath. When you first learn that you have cancer, it seems like your life is suddenly out of control. It helps to focus on one step at a time (e.g., the next doctor's appointment) as opposed to thinking about everything that might happen in the months ahead.
In most cases, you have some time to explore your options. You should ask your doctor how long you can safely wait before treatment begins.
Many people visit or call our Resource Center when they're first diagnosed. Here you can talk with staff and trained volunteers who can answer your questions and provide you with the information you're seeking. Many clients say that the Resource Center provided them with a sense of calm and understanding when every other aspect of their life seemed rushed and unsettled.
These brief articles provide practical advice:
These are the doctors you're most likely to see:
- Surgeons perform biopsies and surgically remove the cancer.
- Medical oncologists treat you with chemotherapy and other drugs, and usually serve as your primary cancer doctor. (The term oncologist is commonly used in place of medical oncologist).
- Radiation oncologists treat you with therapeutic radiation.
- Plastic surgeons perform reconstructive breast surgery, once the cancer has been removed.
- Radiologists read mammograms and perform some types of biopsies.
If your cancer is located in prostate, bladder or other part of the urinary tract, a urologist will lead the medical team.
If the cancer is gynecologic in nature, you may be referred to a gynecologic oncologist.
Most cancers can be treated in Ithaca. Surgeons, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists practice here. Some people choose to receive care at larger medical centers, most often in New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, or Syracuse. Other clients receive their care in Ithaca, but travel to a larger medical center for a second opinion.
There is no single "best" place to be treated. What's most important is for you to have confidence in and feel comfortable with your physicians.
Yes! We recommend that you have someone accompany you to doctor's appointments. This is especially true at first when there is so much to absorb. Don't hesitate to invite a family member or friend to go with you. They're likely to be honored to help you in this way. They can help you remember what was discussed and provide personal support.
The Cancer Resource Center maintains a roster of Support Companions who can accompany you to appointments and treatments. To arrange for a Support Companion, contact us at 607-277-0960.
We listen, we comfort, and we share. We don't give medical advice. Rather, we help you to understand what is happening and help you make more informed decisions. We also identify resources and offer referrals that might help you.