When you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, you might find it helpful to start keeping a health journal. It’s a place to keep track of the names and doses of the medicines you take, the symptoms you’ve had (and when), diagnostic tests and their results, treatments received and doctor visits. While your doctor will keep records about tests they’ve ordered and treatments they’ve administered, sometimes during your journey you will see multiple specialists and it is helpful to have your own set of notes to keep track of everything.
Questions you want to ask and more
I use my health journal to write down questions for the next time I see a particular doctor. I often think of something I want to ask when I’m going about my day. I find that if I don’t write it down, I can’t always remember to ask my question when I am at the doctor. I also include information about reactions I’ve had to certain foods or medications, details about the nights when I didn’t sleep well, and anything else I think is noteworthy.
Your health journal as a resource
While it sounds like a lot of work, over the years it has saved me time and given me a resource to check back on my health. For example, sometimes when I’m having what I think is a new side effect, my journal helps me figure out if this is something new, or if I’ve had it before. When speaking with one of my doctors, they sometimes ask about the results from a test done by another specialist if they haven’t received his/her notes yet. My journal really helps me answer these questions more accurately.
Every few days I check my weight on the scale and use my journal to keep track of changes, so I can be sure that I am not gaining or losing too much in between treatments. Maintaining your weight during breast cancer treatment can be an important part of how you feel and how well you can continue your normal activities while you are undergoing treatment. My health journal is also the place I write down my physical activity — another important part of your self-care.
A small notebook and a pen is all you need
Nothing fancy, I use a simple notebook I bought at the drugstore that is small enough to fit in my purse and I try to write in it as the day goes on. Sometimes I have to re-create the day at the end of the evening, and it can be hard to always remember everything.