8 Ways to Advocate for Yourself at Your Next Doctor’s Appointment 

Going to the doctor’s office is already intimidating. Then when you add the element of something as serious as discussions about family health history and cancer, suddenly a simple conversation with your doctor can become pretty nerve-wracking!

What if you could go to your next doctor’s appointment feeling more informed, empowered, and confident? 

When you learn how to be your own best advocate, you help yourself and your doctor make the most informed decisions regarding your healthcare–including the best plan for your cancer prevention. 

While these 8 Tips for Advocating for Yourself have been made with colon cancer prevention in mind, many can be applied to any upcoming visit you may have with any healthcare provider!

Before Your Appointment 

  1. Take 5 minutes to write notes describing your condition.

    Include any symptoms you’re experiencing that are troubling, as well as any triggers you can identify. Bring those notes to your appointment!

  2. Be aware of the common signs of cancer like anemia, blood in stool, weight loss, and fatigue.
  3. Document your family health history.

    Call your family members and make sure you know what cancers, genetic disorders, or any other serious conditions run in your family. Remember that not all cancers are inherited, but a family history may adjust what age you start certain cancer screenings.

  4. Keep an updated list of any medications you’re taking. 

    Also bring copies of any X-rays or lab results that are relevant to your appointment.

  5. Before a diagnostic procedure, shop around. 

    Depending on your insurance, different healthcare systems and providers may charge more or less for your procedure. Oftentimes services provided by free-standing, independent surgery centers are more affordable than those of larger healthcare systems. All hospitals in the US are required to be transparent with their prices online. Before your procedure, research pricing and billing for multiple providers.

During Your Appointment

6. Request the tests you want done. 

You may feel a colonoscopy or a CAT scan is your next step. If a doctor denies your request, you can ask your provider to make a note in your record. There is also no shame in seeking a second opinion, especially when it comes to preventing cancer. 

7. Take notes at your procedure. 

If you are undergoing a procedure where you’ll be taking a general aesthetic, ask your family member or caretaker to write down what the doctor says. You can also ask your doctor if you can record the conversation on your phone to play back later. While you’ll likely receive a printed report of your procedure, recordings and/or hand-written notes are good to have. Especially if you’re drowsy right after your surgery!

8. Schedule a follow up appointment you’re most comfortable with. 

You may want to touch base with your doctor sooner or later than your next appointment. Be sure to voice any concerns to your doctor!

Ready to start the conversation with your doctor about colon cancer screening? Read up on what test is right for you here