As you navigate your stage 4 bladder cancer treatment, your doctor and your healthcare team will be incredibly important to you. Being open and honest with them will help you understand your journey and help you get the information you need.

Here are some tips for talking to your doctor and some key questions to ask:

Know how much you want to know

The first step to communicating with your doctor is realizing how much you want to know about your diagnosis. Some people want to know everything possible about their medical diagnosis. This can help you feel more in control of your condition and treatment. It can also help you better plan for the future. Other people can find this amount of information overwhelming. They may only want to know the basics about their diagnosis and treatment.

Having an idea of how much you want to know will help you make sure you get all of the information that you want. It will also prevent you from becoming weighed down too much information. Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor how much or little you want to know.

Remember what your doctor says

During your appointments, you and your doctor may discuss many difficult and complicated things. If your doctor uses words you don’t understand, make sure to ask questions. Appointments can be overwhelming, and it may be difficult to remember everything your doctor says. If you have trouble remembering some things you and your doctor talked about, or you are worried about forgetting, you can take notes or ask if you can record your conversations. This gives you a reference to look back at if you have trouble remembering anything.

You can also bring a family member or a friend to the appointment. Having a second set of ears can help you remember more of what your doctor said. It may also help you feel more at ease during your visits. You may want to ask your doctor for a written Cancer Treatment Plan that will outline with all the specifics of your treatment.

Think about what you want to ask

After a diagnosis of bladder cancer, it’s understandable to have many questions. Writing down your questions and concerns before your appointments can be helpful for many reasons. Asking questions can help you clarify your diagnosis and better understand what you will be going through. Everyone will have different questions about their diagnosis and treatment, but here are some general topics you may want to bring up:

  • What is my diagnosis?
  • Which treatments do you recommend? Are there other treatments besides that?
  • What are the risks to the treatment? The benefits?
  • How long will the treatment be?
  • What should I expect to feel during the treatment? Are there side effects?
  • Is there anything to treat the side effects?
  • How will the treatment affect my life? Will I be able to work? Will I be able to care for my family?
  • Will the treatment affect my appetite, sleep, or sex life? Will I be able to have children after treatment?
  • When should I start treatment? What if I have an important event (wedding, graduation, etc.) coming up? Can I delay it?

You should get the contact information of your doctor and your entire healthcare team. Ask your team who the best person to get a hold of is when you have questions, and how to reach them. Also ask when the best time to contact your doctor is, and whom you should contact in case of an emergency.

Open and honest communication with your doctor will be incredibly useful throughout your journey. They have your best interest at heart, and you should ask them any questions that come to mind.