Breast Cancer - You and Your Medical Team

by Michael Russell - Date: 2006-12-04 - Word Count: 540 Share This!

We all know that doctors are busy, pulled in many directions and pressed for time. As a breast cancer patient, when you are dealing with people you might otherwise find intimidating, you may be a bit reluctant to make demands. But remember, they are people just like you and you can bet they'd want someone to pay close attention if you were in their shoes. Never lose sight of this fact - and never chose a doctor who has. You should expect doctors to hear you. As a way of showing they are listening and caring, it is not unusual for doctors to pull up a chair and sit face-to-face while discussing your diagnosis and options for treatment of your breast cancer. You need to feel your doctor sees you as a person. If only one of you is talking, there's a problem. You will want to make certain that your doctor not only answers any questions you may have, but also provides you with information that will allow you to make decisions, or know where to look for answers.

Each of us has a comfort level when it comes to facing what will lie ahead in terms of breast surgery, cancer adjuvant therapies, prognosis and possibilities. You may want to know every detail. If this is the case, you should expect the doctor you select to explain tests and procedures you will be undergoing. On the other hand, you should decide in advance how much you really want to know. Some of us need the hard, fast facts of breast cancer; others just want a broad overview; still other want only the information they will need to take their first step. One size does not fit all, so feel free to ask about anything that comes to mind.

Because you may be nervous or frightened - or simply because you may be asking questions that require lengthy or complicated answers - you may want to tape-record conversations with your doctor. Don't be afraid to ask. This is a great way to make sure you aren't missing anything important. It provides you with the opportunity to review what you discussed and also allows you to absorb what was said at your own pace, in your own time. If you run into a doctor who doesn't want to be taped, you should seriously consider whether this is someone you will feel safe and confident with, or if it's time to move on.

In this day and age, it is not uncommon for women with breast cancer to seek out therapies that may be considered outside the realm of Western medicine. A growing number of patients feel they need to approach breast cancer on more than one level. You may try acupuncture, massage, Chinese herbs, vitamins, or many other therapies currently classified alternative or complementary medicine. Your doctor should want to know about these and you will want to pay close attention to reactions when you discuss other therapies you may be trying or want to try. If your doctor dismisses these therapies without evidence that a specific therapy is harmful or ineffective, you may want to leave that doctor and find one who acknowledges that alternative treatments can help you to improve you physical and emotional well-being.

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