What to Expect
When your child is diagnosed with a serious illness, it can feel overwhelming for families. We have an experienced, compassionate team ready to help you adjust to what’s happening. You may want to talk to a child life specialist, social worker, or chaplain, or join a support group.
Ask someone you trust to go with you to doctors' appointments and tests. This person can provide emotional support. A friend can also help by keeping track of questions you want to ask, taking notes and doing research on your child’s disease and treatment options. The treatment that a friend or relative received may not be the best treatment for your child.
Your First Visit
Seattle Children’s is a Seattle Cancer Care Alliance parent organization and provides care for children with cancer and blood disorders up to the age of 21 years, normally at the Hematology/Oncology Clinic.
Your child’s health-care team will be made up of professionals from many disciplines who work together to care for your child. These include pediatric oncologists and hematologists, nurse practitioners, nutritionists, child life specialists, social workers, and many others.
Each child’s situation is unique, and your visits with us will be tailored to your child’s needs. Typically, here’s what you can expect:
- When you make your first appointment, a representative from Seattle Children’s may talk with you by phone to complete your child’s registration.
- When you arrive for your first appointment (or any appointment) at the Hematology/Oncology Clinic, check in at the front desk with the clinic coordinator. This person will check your child’s height, weight, and vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature.
- During your first visit you will meet with a patient care coordinator. Your patient care coordinator is part of your child’s disease-specific team. (The team also includes a nurse practitioner, the doctor, and a social worker.) The patient care coordinator helps you schedule your child’s appointments, collects your health insurance information, and coordinates other aspects of your child’s care—so you have one person to go to for help.
- Your child will be seen by the attending physician and may also see a fellow, a nurse practitioner, or a physician assistant. The attending physician is the doctor who directs your child’s treatment. This doctor has the primary responsibility for treatment. A fellow is a doctor who has completed medical school and specialty training, such as in pediatrics, and who is training in a subspecialty, such as pediatric hematolog. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced training in a specialized area. A physician’s assistant helps with a variety of tasks, such as taking a medical history, performing an exam, and ordering tests.
- Depending on your needs, you may see other members of the team. For example, a nutritionist may help with diet concerns. A child life specialist can talk with you about helping your child cope.
- All new patients are seen by a social worker. A social worker can help with a range of services, including arranging housing if you are from outside the area.
- To get more information about your child’s health, your child may need to have tests or other procedures, such as a blood test, urine test, CT scan, or biopsy. Often the doctor can get the results of such tests during the same visit.
- Some children need to be admitted to the hospital right away so their treatment can begin. Some children can receive treatment as outpatients (not staying at the hospital). Once you and your child’s health-care team know the diagnosis, you will be able to talk about the treatment options and choose the next steps.
Where Your Child will be Seen
Children who receive treatment through Seattle Cancer Care Alliance get their care at Seattle Children’s, an SCCA parent organization, located at 4800 Sandpoint Way NE in Seattle. Map and Driving Directions.
Most children with cancer begin their journey with us at our Hematology-Oncology Clinic, sometimes called “hem/onc” (heem-onk) for short. To reach the Hematology-Oncology Clinic, go to Seattle Children’s, follow signs to the Ocean parking area and come in through the Ocean entrance. Inside you’ll see our information and registration desks. Staff there can point you to the Hematology-Oncology Clinic, down the hall on the sixth floor.
How to Begin
Each child’s journey at Seattle Children’s is different depending on the child’s needs. Many children with cancer first visit us because their doctor at home recommended this. Some are referred to the emergency room because of acute cancer-related illness, and then they are admitted for a stay in the oncology unit of the hospital so they can receive immediate around-the-clock care. Others come to the hospital for other services, such as to have a benign mass removed, and then doctors discover the mass is malignant, so the child begins cancer care with us.
If you would like to make an appointment for your child at SCCA or Seattle Children’s, contact the SCCA Patient Intake Office at (206) 288-SCCA (7222).