Posted 3 years ago

Staying Organized After a New Cancer Diagnosis

A cancer diagnosis can leave you feeling many emotions, one of them being overwhelmed. After a diagnosis, there are many diagnostic tests and doctor’s visits that take place. All of the appointments are equally important and come with a flood of information for both the patient and caregivers. Staying organized from the start is tremendously helpful and allows you to make the most of your time with your physicians. Below are steps you can take to ensure you are organized after a cancer diagnosis.

  • Get yourself a binder – There are many important items that you will want to keep to reference at another point and copies of vital information. Get yourself a binder with dividers so that you can have all of your current and important information.
  • Lists are helpful – Most physicians will ask for the same information so that they can make specific recommendations based on their specialty and your medical needs. There are a few lists that will be frequently used; an updated medication list, past medical & surgical history, and a list of physicians you are receiving care from and what specialty they are in. Do not forget to write down any drug allergies that you are aware of. Make sure every time you start or stop a new medication, you update your medication list to avoid confusion.
  • Create space for financial information – During your treatment, unless you are covered a hundred percent by your insurance, you will receive billing statements, an explanation of benefits from your insurance company, or receipts from payments you’re made. Make space in your binder for a tracker of out-of-pocket expenses you own and what bills have been paid. Be specific; this will help you to avoid paying something twice!
  • Keep a copy of your imaging reports and even your images – Most Medical Assistants are able to pull up your medical record from imaging centers, but to be safe, keep your image CD or report with you to avoid any delays in care.
  • Ask questions and write down answers – There are many questions that come up when you first receive a cancer diagnosis, but also during your treatment. Our providers are glad to answer these questions. Write them down in a notebook along with the answers you receive. This is helpful when explaining things to your family. You can even have your family or caregivers take notes for you.
  • Complete Advance Care Planning –Our Ironwood Social Workers provide assistance completing Advance Care Planning assistance upon appointment request. Email for appointments. It is important at any stage in life to complete Advance Care Planning. This ensures your health care wishes are clearly stated and that you have a certain person in charge of making medical decisions if you are unable to. Taking the steps to complete this process helps your family and caregivers to make decisions that are honoring to you. Once you complete your Advance Directive, retain the original and provide a copy to each of your physicians, and one to your Healthcare Power of Attorney.
  • Keep a calendar that can be carried at all times – You can print or purchase a large monthly calendar that can be marked to display medication routines, office visits, testing, or treatment dates. There should be one calendar to note all of the necessary services. Caregivers can assist you with filling it out based on your scheduling needs. This also ensures your caregivers know what is coming up for you.
  • Keep a business card sleeve in your binder to include cards for any instead of a list of providers.
  • Make an extra copy of your insurance card(s) – front and back.
  • Don’t save everything – you can always get copies of routine records or medical resources from your physicians’ office.
  • Make a to-do list before surgery or treatment –caregivers can help complete these items in advance.
  • Take a picture – If you do not have a way of writing something down at the time, use your phone camera and take a picture.
  • Ask for help – your loved ones want nothing more than to feel useful during your time of need. Let them organize and be the keeper of lists!

About Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers

Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers (ICRC) is the largest multi-specialty oncology network in the Greater Metro Phoenix area. They have over 100 medical providers, a robust Integrative Services program, and a dedicated clinical research department. Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers has 15 valley locations and five comprehensive cancer care centers that offer a multi-disciplinary approach for expedited personalized patient care. For more information, please visit