Once you've had cancer, it becomes a major part of your medical history. Make sure to get a copy of your cancer treatment records. That way, you can share the information with any doctors you see, now and in the future.
Should a potentially cancer-related problem develop later on, the medical document can offer doctors valuable clues, says Mary McCabe, RN, MA, director of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Cancer Survivorship Program. "To know that you had a drug that causes neuropathy or that can be damaging to the heart is extremely important. To know that you had radiation to an area of your shoulder may explain why you have limited range of motion."
By Darci Picoult
It began with a bump. The size of a pinhead. Innocuous. An innocuous little pinhead of a bump on my vulva. Given that my gynecologist said the bump was probably nothing, I laughed it off. Which, in turn, made my bump mad. Very mad. It wanted my attention. And so it grew. I smeared it in medicine. It grew more. More medicine. More growth. Hanukkah came. Then Christmas. A war raged between us. I went to battle in the middle of the night with salt baths and creams. Prayed for its departure...
Consider sending a copy of your medical records to a trusted relative outside of your area, too. Be sure to send updates on important medical developments so that the file stays current. That way, if you lose your medical records to fire, theft, or natural disaster, you'll have a backup copy.
SOURCES: Mary McCabe, RN, MA, director, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Cancer Survivorship Program. "Cancer Facts," National Cancer Institute. "Getting Medical Care After Cancer Treatment," National Cancer Institute.