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What to Expect at Your First Appointment

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    What to bring

    Please make sure you have with you the items listed in your packet, which may include radiology films, your patient health history form, and insurance cards. You might also like to bring along a book, magazine, or laptop to help pass the time while waiting. Dana-Farber has free wireless internet access in most patient areas. 
    Arriving for your appointment

    Adult patients can enter the Dana-Farber parking garage from Jimmy Fund Way. Once you arrive, your visit will start at Central Registration on the second floor of the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care. At the satellite centers, please check in at the registration desk.
    For pediatric patients who have appointments at the Jimmy Fund Clinic, please also use the parking garage located on Jimmy Fund Way. A limited number of spots are reserved for families of pediatric patients on level three of the parking garage. Once you arrive with your child, you should proceed to the Jimmy Fund Clinic, which is located on the third floor of the Dana Building.

    Please plan to check in at least 30 minutes before your appointment time.

    You will receive a privacy notice, a patient identification card, and a handbook outlining all the services available to you or your child as a patient. You will also be asked to sign several forms.

    How long the visit will take

    You should plan to spend two to three hours for your first visit.

    If you have general questions about Dana-Farber resources at the Longwood campus, such as how to find a support group or where to get a cup of coffee, visit the Concierge Services desk located in the lobby of the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care at 450 Brookline Avenue. You can also borrow an iPad during you visit.

    During your visit, you or a family member might like to visit the chapel, cafeteria, or resource centers.

    What your visit includes

    On your first day, you will meet with health care professionals who will review your medical records and health history and give you a physical examination. They will answer any questions and discuss treatment options, including the possibility of participating in clinical studies of innovative new treatments.

    Your first appointment will be tailored to your specific medical needs, and you may be scheduled to see more than one physician.

    Our specialists work as a team to evaluate and treat patients with all types of cancers and related diseases. Our goal is to provide an expert evaluation and the most advanced care possible.

    Specialists may include:

    • Medical oncologists, who specialize in administering anti-cancer drugs (chemotherapy)
    • Surgical oncologists, who perform various surgical procedures.
    • Radiation oncologists, who use radiation to destroy cancer cells.
    • Other specialists such as pathologists, radiologists, nurses, nutritionists, and social workers.

    Learn more about the roles of members of your care team.

    Getting the most out of your visit

    Here are some tips to guide your visits:

    • Talk with your health care team. Your doctors and nurses know a lot about your disease, but you know a lot about your own body. Share your fears and concerns, and feel free to ask questions or have something explained again.
    • Consider bringing along another family member or friend. Having support may help you make better choices when you meet with your doctor or nurse.
    • Listen carefully. Take notes when your doctor or nurse explains something, or ask your companion to do so. You might want to bring along a notebook and pen, voice recorder, laptop computer, or smartphone to help keep track of key information. If you'd like to record the session, please ask for verbal permission from your clinician and anyone else participating in the conversation.
    • Write down the names of your health care team and office staff. Keep the list handy and call your doctor's office if you have questions.
    • Bring your government-issued photo ID and health insurance cards. Keep your photo ID and insurance cards with you at all times.
    • Know what, if any drugs you take. Make a list of all medications you take and any allergies you have. Update this list often and carry it with you to share with your health care team.
    • Try to be on time for appointments. Plan enough time in your commute to account for parking your car and unexpected traffic delays (especially during the Red Sox season). Checking in at least 30 minutes before your first appointment and 15 minutes before subsequent appointments can help ensure that you and other patients are seen promptly throughout the day.

    Going home

    Once your appointment has ended, take a moment to recognize that this first step is over. Your next visit will feel much easier, because you'll know your way, your care team will be familiar, and you'll have a plan for moving forward.