A fork in the road shows two doctors, second opinion

I Had A Second Opinion

The day that I received my diagnosis of ovarian cancer, I was referred to a local oncologist. When I met with the oncologist, she told me I needed surgery as soon as possible.

I received the initial diagnosis on a Wednesday, and the following Wednesday, I went in for surgery.

"Did you get a second opinion?"

In one week, I had to process the news and inform my close friends and family members. I remember telling one member of my family of the diagnosis, and her first question was, "Did you get a second opinion?"

Honestly, this was the last thing that was on my mind. My thought process was, "I have a week to prepare for surgery." There was no time for me to schedule or ask for a second opinion, as I did not know what the prognosis was.

Seeking a second opinion

The interesting thing is after my surgery and pathology came back, my oncologist called me on the phone to give me an update.

During this call, she stated that she was referring me to another physician for a second opinion. A part of me was relieved that we had the results, but there was a huge amount of fear.

Should I have requested a second opinion prior to my surgery? And what is going on that this particular person couldn't help me? Those questions will probably stick with me forever.

However, I appreciate my oncologist "owning" the process of getting a second opinion for me. I cannot fathom what the outcome would be if I had a different treatment plan. I also believe that she wanted to ensure that the right plan was in place to help my rare form of cancer.

Advocate for yourself

Leading up to the appointment, which was about a week or so after surgery. I ensured that every time I had a question, to make a note so I could mention it during the appointment. Advocate for yourself, and no question is off-limits. I tend to process things after the fact, so having my list of questions came in handy.

One of my recommendations includes bringing someone to the appointment if you can. My husband was with me throughout my appointments because I had just had surgery and needed help ambulating. He was my second pair of ears and eyes. I did not bring films, pathology reports, or scan results with me, so that delayed things but not too much.

Luckily, where I went, the physicians preferred their own scans and labs. But a good rule of thumb would be to bring any records that are available to the appointment.

Building my best care team possible

Looking back now, I am grateful that I did follow through with a second opinion. It makes me think of when I have patients, and the physician consults another physician to help with the treatment planning. This is exactly what a second opinion was in my case. I had a primary oncologist that consulted another for assistance with the treatment options and their expertise.

There is nothing wrong with seeking a second opinion, in my opinion, especially if there is concern regarding the diagnosis. Seeing a specialist for a second opinion gave me clarity and hope. I left my appointment feeling that I had a chance at winning this battle.

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