At the beginning of your treatment plan, you can expect to have many doctors' appointments. Treatments such as surgery (and possibly reconstruction), chemotherapy, and radiation therapy require frequent visits to your doctor’s office or hospital. Over time, you’re likely to see your doctor less often. In either case, it can be easy to lose track and forget about an appointment or have a last-minute conflict arise at work or home.
The following tips can help you stay on track with doctor’s appointments:
- Use a calendar to record treatment sessions or other medical appointments. Post a large wall calendar in a spot you pass every day or, if you work on a computer daily, use its calendar tool. Be sure to block out additional days that may be needed to recover from treatment.
- Add family, community, and work-related events to your calendar. If any important events conflict with your treatment plan, talk with the people involved — your employer, co-workers, neighbors, relatives, friends — to work out alternatives. If you’re worried about how to cut back on your work commitments, a letter from your doctor stating your need for a reduced schedule could be a big help.
- If you need frequent appointments for radiation, chemotherapy, or other treatment, plan them for the time of the week that works best for you. For example, if you work, you may find it easier to have treatments at the end of the week, to give you time over the weekend to recover. On the other hand, if weekends are the best time for you to see family and friends, you may prefer to have appointments early in the week. In either case, scheduling appointments for a specific day of the week can help you remember them.
- Find a friend, family member, neighbor, or other support person to go with you to your appointments. Having company will help you keep your appointments, and help with driving can make it easier for you to focus on your treatment.
- Talk with your doctor if you have a conflict with an event that can’t be changed, such as a family occasion or vacation. There may be a way to adapt your treatment plan around that event but still keep you on track.
"Some people aren't good about showing up for visits. We try to remind them that this is a serious thing that they should continue to see us for."
— Ann Partridge, M.D., MPH