Why you NEED a Second Opinion!

looking to the sky through trees with text "why you need a second opinion."
This option could be your best!

The importance of getting a second opinion is critically huge when you are going through kind of this monumental change, or this monumental experience they call cancer. As a cancer survivor or as a new cancer patient, it’s very critical to get all the information you need in order to make good choices to start your treatment and to feel confident in your ability to feel the best that you can. It’s really easy when you don’t know anything about what you’re going through during your original diagnosis to not know you have options. 

Your so overwhelmed, you just don’t know!

You feel really alone. You go with the flow and just let time happen. Mostly because you can’t believe this is happening in the first place. Especially since it’s really hard to understand the cancer experience. You gotta let it go. It’s a tough thing to do, especially for someone that has a lot of ability and likes to have control over everything.

It takes a lot of guts to go through this and to put your faith into someone that you may not know anything about who you are and your situation. They do know a lot about cancer and a lot about other circumstances like yours. This is the time you feel all alone!

What I have learned from a Second Opinion!

When you’re originally diagnosed, you start to develop a routine. And over time, you learn to become numb to everything because you end up going to so many doctor visits, seeing specialists, multiple visits to your primary care doctor, trips to pharmacies, multiple tests and biopsies and a lot more. There’s just a lot involved with the process. 

I’m realizing and remembering a lot of feelings and emotions I went through during my original diagnosis 10 years ago. I’m feeling a lot of the same now into this next journey or this next chapter. Mostly because I ended up having to see a specialist right off the bat due to my history with Hodgkin’s. 

It opened up a floodgate of emotions and feelings. And on top of that, you feel you may not be getting the answers to those questions. 

That’s what ended up happening with my initial visit with the first specialist I saw in Denver. I didn’t feel we weren’t getting the answers we wanted. It was a three-hour consultation and although we were talking a lot about treatment, it was feeling more like this is the way and there’s no other option. 

Is this how it is? NO! It is not.

Because of that atmosphere, tone and the words used, I felt like I was just a number within the macro picture of treatment with this oncology transplant team. It was really hard to hear that. I left that consult feeling more confused and not comfortable with my situation moving forward with them. 

Once I met with my oncology team in Edwards, the one that is actually going to be administering my treatment (who is super helpful by the way), they’re very professional and very kind and caring. We asked to get a second opinion.  My oncology team absolutely encourages that. And they gave a recommendation and helped us set up an appointment with another specialist in Denver. 

Below is a great link from the American Cancer Society about Second Opinions!

https://www.cancer.org/treatment/finding-and-paying-for-treatment/choosing-your-treatment-team/seeking-a-second-opinion.html

For this second consult, My wife and I took a little bit of a different approach. We had a really early morning appointment. So we stayed the night before in Denver and got to the hospital early. We treated that evening as a date night. My wife and I went out to dinner and did some things that were a little bit different with the intention of taking our mind off the importance of this second consultation. We got a hotel and we just enjoyed our time together. By doing this, It gave us a fresh perspective leading into the next day’s affairs along with helping with anxiety and fear.

It was really good to meet this new transplant doctor because he specializes in the reoccurrence of lymphoma and Hodgkin’s in particular. There wasn’t a lot of difference between what the first specialist said and the second specialist said, but it was in how he presented it to us. And he answered all our questions!

And that’s why a Second Opinion made a big difference. 

There were some options that were brought up that were different. This helped Erika and I take all this info into consideration for what we were looking for regarding my future treatment plan. 

I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at the big picture of it all. During the first consult, What it’s going to be like after the initial six cycles of treatment and a PET scan after the third, and then the course of treatment after that. The dreaded maintenance chemo. I had a lot of fear leftover from my first initial visit with the first team. And this maintenance plan still has me scared!

So with this second consultation, we were able to get a much better grasp of the overall picture of it. And I left feeling much more confident and better with what I’m about to go through with treatment. 

The important Second Opinion

So at the end of the day, I’m glad that the second opinion happened. It gave me a lot more insight into what the overall treatments going to be for me for the next six months to the next two years. It gave me enough confidence to feel good about the next steps of what the journey is going to entail. 

That is the main reason why you want to get a second opinion. Just for the pure fact of making sure that you get all the information presented to you. And it honestly if insurance would take it, I would try to get a third, fourth and even a fifth opinion but that would require traveling out of state. That’s just not realistic and it’s logically not going to happen. 

But again, I feel I feel really good. I’m glad we got the second opinion. You always hear about how is it morally okay! Honestly, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what team you’re going to go with as long as you feel comfortable with the team that presented you with the best information in the most understandable way. 

That’s why it’s super critical for you to make a choice on who you’re going to get treatment from. So take the time, especially if you’re diagnosed stage two and even three. What’re another two weeks going to be in getting that second opinion to make sure that you feel like you are going down the right path for treatment. Because chemotherapy is no joke, it’s going to wreck you, it is going to do a lot of damage. 

Take the Time for a Second Opinion!

Take the time to really allow yourself to get all the information. Then don’t feel bad if you decide to go with another team at the end of the day. It’s just business and you should treat it as such. And you should treat your health as a business because you are essentially spending a lot of money with these teams to make yourself better and to get you healthy again. So by all means, take the time to choose what you feel is the right choice.

Right now I feel very, very good about having a second opinion and I’m going to go with my second option because it was such a better meeting and much more comforting. 

By taking this approach, It was more confidence building as I go into this next bit of treatment. So Yeah, that’s why you need to do a second opinion!  

About the Author

Todd Franzen is a Stage 4 Lymphoma Survivor. Living in Breckenridge Colorado

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