Keep Copies of Your Medical Records
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I have a huge file with all the test results and pathology reports that pertain to the breast cancer diagnosis. It was helpful for a while, especially when I met with the genetics counselor and the surgeons who did my reconstructive surgery. I even had my bone scans and x-rays for a while, when I carried them with me to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore to discuss prophylactic mastectomy and DIEP flap surgery.
It was my oncologist’s secretary who carefully copied every test and made sure to give it to me as I left each office visit. She suggested I keep it nearby since it could prove helpful to have. Now it is just a huge file taking up room in my file cabinet. I seldom if ever look at it anymore, and it seems almost obsolete since losing both of my breasts. Truthfully though, just knowing that I have access to the information gives me a sense of security. I feel it is like having a weapon in my arsenal if the enemy returns.
For all people newly diagnosed with breast cancer or with any cancer, having access to information about the stage and specifics of their disease is important. Generally it becomes difficult as time goes by to collect all the relevant information when it is required for future treatment or to meet with other doctors. I learned early to request copies of test results and pathology reports as they occurred.
Recently I realized that I did not have a copy of the pathology report from the oophorectomy (ovary removal) I had a few years ago. I loved the gynecologist that did the surgery, but she has since left the region and if I needed further surgery I would need to find another doctor. That would require me being able to provide any new doctor with the reports from the initial surgery. My plan is to go to the clinic where the doctor worked to acquire a copy, but it would have been much easier just to have asked her for a copy on one of my office visits after the surgery.
For anyone either newly diagnosed with breast cancer or who is a few years out as a survivor, I recommend you start gathering your health records and keeping them with you. It is part of being a good advocate for your own health and taking charge of your own wellness and health care. Every doctor should comply and provide you with copies of the information and test results you need. It will save you worry and trouble as you move forward with treatment or as you make other decisions about your health.
Video: How to Keep Electronic Medical Records
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