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Doctors’ appointments can be overwhelming. While you may go into an appointment with a set of questions in mind, your doctor may present a great deal of new information that can lead the conversation and your concerns in a completely different direction. Clear communication is vital during cancer treatment; patients who feel actively involved in decisions and positive about interactions with their doctors report higher satisfaction and quality of life.1Kiesler DJ, Auerbach SM. Optimal matches of patient preferences for information, decision-making and interpersonal behaviour: evidence, models and interventions. Patient Educ Couns. 2006;61:319-341.

There are helpful strategies for approaching doctor consultations.

  • Bring a friend or family member with you. Two sets of ears can be very helpful to remember all that was said. If no one is available, consider bringing a recording device.
  • Write down your questions beforehand and don’t hesitate to write notes during the appointment. To help you with this, we’ve started a template with some questions already built in for you. You can customize the list of questions to print out before your appointment.

THANC Questions for Surgical Team
This template includes questions for your surgical care team about your cancer removal surgery, reconstruction and recovery.

THANC Treatment Side Effects
This template includes questions for members of your care team about managing side effects from radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Nutrition Tracker
Maintaining proper nutrition is a vital aspect of head or neck cancer treatment. Even before treatment begins, cancer can cause significant changes in how food is processed by your body. Treatment can lead to side effects that have an enormous impact on things like your ability to swallow, your sense of smell and taste, your appetite and your ease of digestion.2Doyle C, Kushi LH, Byers T, Courneya KS, Demark-Wahnefried W, Grant B, McTiernan A, Rock CL, Thompson C, Gansler T, Andrews KS. Nutrition and physical activity during and after cancer treatment: an American Cancer Society guide for informed choices. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 2006;56:323-353.

It is important to follow your care team’s instructions concerning your diet as you cope with these changes. Download and print this simple nutrition tracker to make monitoring your daily and weekly calorie intake easier. Some people experience loss of appetite during cancer treatment and, with a reduced interest in eating, may not realize how little nutrition they are getting unless it is written down for reference. If you are experiencing a loss of appetite, Mayo Clinic suggests trying tricks like eating lots of small meals, keeping healthy snacks nearby and scheduling meal times. This printable tool can help you maintain proper nutrition and your strength during treatment as you try these new approaches to eating. It may be helpful to review the tracker with your doctor. Remember to discuss nutrition with your care team to find out what you need and to decide on a goal for your daily caloric intake.


References

1 Kiesler DJ, Auerbach SM. Optimal matches of patient preferences for information, decision-making and interpersonal behaviour: evidence, models and interventions. Patient Educ Couns. 2006;61:319-341.

2 Doyle C, Kushi LH, Byers T, Courneya KS, Demark-Wahnefried W, Grant B, McTiernan A, Rock CL, Thompson C, Gansler T, Andrews KS. Nutrition and physical activity during and after cancer treatment: an American Cancer Society guide for informed choices. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 2006;56:323-353.