Your Medical Appointments

 

   

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       diagnosis cancer
 

          


With a diagnosis of cancer, your relationships with your doctors  are likely to become even more important to you. Your relationship with your doctor / and or Complementary Medical Therapist is a key part of your care. You will likely have one doctor who coordinates all of your care. This doctor should be someone that you feel comfortable with and someone who listens to your concerns and answers all of your questions. Your doctor will explain your diagnosis, your health condition, your treatment options, and your progress throughout treatment.

        

The oncologist you ultimately choose will help you assemble the right team of specialists for the type of cancer you have.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number and variety of doctors who are involved in your care. But there’s a good reason so many experts are required. Cancer treatments are most effective when provided by experienced specialists with particular areas of expertise.

          

You, the patient, your doctors and / or complimentary medical therapist  and health creation team must work together on listening and speaking to one another. You should feel comfortable talking to anyone on your back to health team! Your doctor or complimentary therapist should listen to your concerns and as needed , consult other care members.Honesty and openness with each other is also important. The more honest and clear you are, the more your health - creation team can help you.


    

 
Dr Bernie Siegel: "Do not be what the word “patient” implies, a submissive sufferer. Be what I call arespant,” a responsible participant, in your care.

 
You may be hesitant to question the medical staff, especially those physicians who think M.D means "Medical Deity". But a respant knows that it's always appropriate to question authority". 
 
Dr Siegel: “I can recall, as an intern, realizing that the seniors with hip fractures, who were noisy and demanding, didn’t develop pneumonia and die while the submissive, quiet seniors, who never raised their voice or caused a problem, had a much higher mortality rate.

By speaking up and becoming a character or problem patient, you become identified as a person and not by your room number or disease and, therefore, are far less likely to have a fatal or non-fatal medical error made while being cared for. The word ‘patient’ derives its meaning from submissive sufferer. That is not a good thing to be when hospitalized or receiving medical treatment of any kind. You need to be a respant, or responsible participant if you want to heal and survive".


      


 Communication is a two - way process


Like all good relationships, your relationship with your doctor is a 2-way street. You need to inform those who are caring for you about your values and needs. Unless you make these known, it will be difficult for others to respond to them and to serve you.

It’s important to develop a comfortable relationship with your health care team, your doctors, nurses and any other specialists on your journey.  It takes time and effort on both ends. Communication is a two way process.

 
  • Be open and straightforward when talking with your doctors and nurses.

  • Be clear about the role you want to play in making informed decisions about your treatment and care.

  • Describe your symptoms thoroughly, using your own words.

  • Be honest about your lifestyle, diet, and habits. For example, if you smoke, let them know. Without complete information they can’t treat you effectively.

  • Express your concerns and fears. Tell your doctors if you want more specific information about how a treatment is working or what your prognosis is.

It is your job to ask questions, learn about your treatment, and become an active part of your cancer care team.


Doctors may differ in how much information they give to people with cancer and their families. And people who are newly diagnosed also may differ in the amount of information they need or want. If your doctor is giving you too much or too little information, let him know. Feel free to ask your doctor questions and let him know what you need.  


Discuss alternative therapies with your health creation team, especially to surgery, and don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. People diagnosed with cancer often seek them. If you feel that your doctor does not take your concerns seriously, or that he or she is not communicating with you effectively, express this to him. Speak up for yourself.


In an ideal world all health care professionals would be patient, understanding, have all the time in the world to answer questions, and know how to explain things to you so you could easily understand. But finding all of this in one person is rare. Still, it is important for you to trust your doctor and other members of the health care team.


     


 
"Do not be what the word “patient” implies, a submissive sufferer. Be what I call a “respant,” a responsible participant, in your care." - Dr Bernie Siegel
 
Dr Bernie Siegel: You may be hesitant to question the medical staff, especially those physicians who think M.D means "Medical Deity". But a respant knows that it's always appropriate to question authority".
 
Assertiveness is not the same as aggression.
Empowerment doesn't mean bullying people or creating adversaries.Being empowered means knowing - or finding out what you are getting into. You would not sign a blank contract outside of the doctors or hospitals office, so don't do it inside. Before you give someone permission to do any medical procedures or surgery, make sure you know all the details.

 
 Many of us fear being judged aggressive if we assert ourselves, and therefore do not speak out for our own needs; as a result we end up feeling frustrated and unheard. Assertiveness means is asking directly and openly for our needs to be heard and respected. This is your body, and you have a right to be the major say in what happens to it.

 
When being assertive, it is helpful to have a clear idea what you are asking for, and keep repeating the same sentence until you feel it has been responded to.
If you feel  that you can't develop a good partnership with your doctor without feeling compromised, when you feel a lack of trust and open communication is keeping you from getting good medical care,you might want to think about changing to another doctor or consultant or cancer care team, which will better fit your needs. This might feels stressful to you, but bear in your mind how important it is that you have a good working relationship with your health care provider. It is important that you are involved in your decision making process, that your are choosing your treatment!

 
 Also, don't be afraid to ask your doctor for a referral for a second opinion, both locally and nationally. It is possible that someone else can offer you a more advanced service for your type of cancer. Do not feel embarrassed to ask for it, nor should you feel that you are disloyal to your current consultant! 

Any health care service are supposed to be patient centered, so it is important that you are satisfied with the service you are receiving. Always remember: All doctors and health professionals are there to serve you and not the other way around! It is important that your consultant treats you as an equal partner in your healthcare management. You have the right to receive proper time, attention and care  from your doctor.

 
As you search for the best possible professional care, look out for an experienced and compassionate oncologist, GP, surgeon, radiotherapist and or complimentary medical practitioner whom you trust, who answers your questions fully and patiently and  treats you as a person and respects your wishes about Your chosen treatment.

Keep always in mind that you are not only a patient, you are a Person, who has an illness, i.e. cancer.

 
 
    
You are the most important member of your cancer management team.
 
Your chance of survival is much stronger when you are actively work on your own defense. By speaking up and becoming a character or problem patient you become identified as a person and not by your room number or disease and, therefore, are far less likely to have a fatal or non-fatal medical error made while being cared for.

 
The word patient derives its meaning from submissive sufferer. That is not a good thing to be when hospitalized or receiving medical treatment of any kind. You need to be a respant, or responsible participant if you want to heal and survive.
 

Difficult patients do not die when they are supposed to. Statistics do not determine their outcome or results. When you let your doctor or consultant, , determine whether you live or die you are giving away your power.
 
The vital signs are not about your pulse, blood pressure, temperature and respiratory rate but about your needs and desires.
 
        

Always try to have a good friend or family member with you at any consultation, even if you think it will be only a routine visit, as a kind of advocate.  They can take notes while you are talking. This person will help you to remember what is said and will support you in making sure your questions are answered.

Take Notes or Tape Record Your Conversation with Your Doctor or Consultant.  

 
I also recommend that people take tape recorders with them. Some physicians don't like that, but others are perfectly happy. There is lots of data that shows patient satisfaction and compliance are really enhanced when they a tape their consultation and follow-up visits.
Ask your health care team to explain anything you don't understand. It is well researched that when we are stressed, our memory is less sharp and we are more likely to space out. We may be tempted to give away our power to someone in authority and thus agree to something we would not choose under normal circumstances. That’s why having an advocate is so important.
 

    

           
While it is normal to feel overwhelmed, being well prepared will build your confidence.

 
 It is helpful to list in advance all the questions you wish to ask, whether your appointment is an initial consultation or a follow-up visit at any stage along the way. People often don't ask important questions because they feel they are taking up the doctor's time. You have the right to have your questions answered, regardless of how complicated and time consuming you think the process may be. If you think you'll need more time with the doctor telephone the receptionist in advance and arrange a longer appointment.

Clear communication benefits both you and your health care team. When you tell your doctors and health care team what you are experiencing, they can help resolve problems, relieve pain, and improve the outcome of your treatment. Their answers to your questions can ease your fears, allow you to follow the treatment plan of your choice correctly, and give you the knowledge you need to be an effective part of your cancer care team.
 

If you are going for your medical visits, here are some general tips for meeting with the health care team:
 
  • Make a list of questions before each appointment.

  • Take notes. Or ask the doctor if it's okay to use a tape recorder.

  • Get a phone number of someone to call with follow-up questions.

  • Keep a file or notebook of all the papers and test results. Make sure it's taken to medical visits. Ask your doctors and nurses for copies of your chart and all of your test results, and take the file with you to each of your appointments. Keeping track of your medical records makes it easier to see other doctors for additional opinions.

  • Keep records or a diary of all the visits. List the drugs and tests your loved one has taken.

  • Keep a record of any upsetting symptoms or side effects. Note when and where they occur.

  • Find out what to do in an emergency. This includes who to call, how to reach them, and where to go.
 

   


Asking questions shows you want to learn and take an active role in your treatment. If the health care team member does not have time to answer all of your questions, ask when a good time would be to finish your conversation or ask about other ways to get the answers you need.

Your doctor and health - creation care team need to know your questions and concerns. Write down your questions and bring them with you to the doctor’s visit. Sometimes you can even send your questions ahead of time. Your doctor can get information ready for you if he or she knows your questions in advance. If you have a lot of questions, you and your doctor may want to plan extra time to talk about them.


 Don’t worry if your questions seem silly or don’t make sense. All your questions are important and deserve an answer. It’s okay to ask the same question more than once. It’s also okay to ask your doctor to use simpler words and explain terms that are new to you. To make sure you understand, use your own words to repeat back what you heard the doctor say.


Talking to doctors, nurses, and other members of your health care team is very important for people diagnosed with cancer. Your health care team can tell you where to look for information about your type of cancer and its treatment. They can answer your questions, give you support, and refer you to community resources.

 Allow yourself to take in information at your own pace. You decide when you are ready to talk, when you want to learn more about your cancer, and how much you want to learn.
  • Ask your doctor about the experience that qualifies him or her to treat your illness.

  • Make sure you can read his hand writing on any prescriptions written by your doctor. If you can't read it, the pharmacist may not be able to either.

  • Understand that more tests or medications may not always better. Ask your doctor what a new test or medication is likely to achieve. And don't forget that some alternative treatments are more effective and less risky, and often less costly.

  • Make sure you really understand the treatment and the side effects. 

Ask your doctor to repeat his explanations. Keep putting your questions to your specialist and health creation team, until you feel that you are satisfied with the answers; don't be dismissed.

  • It is ok to ask your consultant for extra time to prepare yourself emotionally and physically for your treatment. Know how to reach your doctor any time. 

  • Make sure that all your concerns and questions,      no matter how small, have been answered. It may take more than one visit to discuss all of your concerns, and new questions may come to mind.

  • If you are confused by medical terms, ask your nurse or doctor for explanations in simple language. There is no need to be embarrassed; your team needs you to understand the information and will be happy to explain it to you.
  • Repeat your understanding of what your care provider says. Use simple phrases such as “Do I hear you say that . . . ?” or “My understanding of the problem is…”

  • Ask questions about anything you do not understand concerning your diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor may not be able to answer all your questions and may refer you to another specialist, such as an experienced holistic cancer dietitian, or cancer mentor  for more information.

  • Don’t be afraid to voice your fears about what you’ve heard. The doctor may be able to clarify any misconceptions.

  • Discuss anything you’ve done that has relieved symptoms or that has made them worse. 

  • This might include herbs, foods, or supplements that you have taken. It may help to bring a list of supplements or herbs you are taking so your doctor can be sure they will not interfere with your treatments. However, your doctor or oncologist is rarely trained in complementary medicine or nutrition, so it would be wise to consult a special trained specialist for this matter and ask them to work with your medical team together.

  • Find out who and where to call if you have any questions after your appointment. 

People with cancer must know when they need to call the doctor. Ask which side effects or unusual signs need to be reported right away. Some things can wait until the next office visit, or until regular office hours when you can call and speak to a nurse. But if you are having severe or unexpected side effects, you need to know how to reach your doctor when the office is closed. Be sure you have this phone number and that your loved ones have it, too. If your doctor is not available after hours, find out what you should do if you have problems.

                

  

     


Do not allow yourself to be rushed into any treatment, out of fear or to please your doctor or spouse or anyone else! Do not allow yourself be dismissed.

Ask your doctor to respect the choices that you make!


Doctors want to start treatment as soon as you have been diagnosed to nip the tumor in the bud. They often put pressure on you not to delay the treatment. Your family might want to go on with their life and try to rush you into treatment. This can be very traumatic for you, while you still have to come to terms with the news.

I can't stress it often enough how important it is that you stay strong and slow them down. It is your body, not your doctors, spouse's friends etc. You need to be ready for the treatment and you need the time to gather all the information together until you really can make a well informed decision  about your treatment.


     

 
People with cancer must know when they need to call the doctor. Ask which side effects or unusual signs need to be reported right away. Some things can wait until the next office visit, or until regular office hours when you can call and speak to a nurse. But if you are having severe or unexpected side effects, you need to know how to reach your doctor when the office is closed. Be sure you have this phone number and that your loved ones have it, too. If your doctor is not available after hours, find out what you should do if you have problems.
 

Family members may wish to speak with members of your health care team. This can help them get answers to their questions and find support to deal with their feelings. Your health care team is bound by law to keep information about your health confidential. They will not discuss your health with family members and friends unless you give your permission for them to do so. Let your doctors and nurses know which family members and friends may be contacting them and with whom they can share information.


     

Many proponents of alternative therapies insist that people will have far better outcomes if they use natural medicines alone,. However this can place the individual under acute pressure to decide which camp to join. the decision to use one model of therapy in preference to another must be thought carefully and taken on an absolute individual basis.  

If this is your decision, then you need to be prepared to state this very clearly and assertively and repeat it as long as it is necessary to your medical team, family and friends. You may be will receive criticism from all or one of them and they may think you are committing suicide.

You need to ask yourself if you are strong enough to face this criticism and who will support you about your decision. Some consultants and GP's will be more understanding and support your "No thank you" to conventional treatment, then others.

In cases in which the cancer is low grade and in its early stages, the individual  has time on their side and may opt to work with complementary medicine and alternative therapies alone for a period and then decide for themselves whether or not achieving stabilization or regression of their disease.

You still need to work hard to change the underlying conditions in your body that allowed the cancer to develop in the first place. Removing the tumor does not mean that you have removed the underlying causes for your cancer.

It may be advisable to remove the tumor if their is a risk that it will break through the skin or posing a threat locally to the nervous or arterial tissues. In such cases, urgent medical intervention may be required to safe life or prevent disability. 

The best course of action for those with this dilemma is to talk to a holistic doctor, who might will help you to evaluate realistically which option or combination  of options would be best for you when all the various factors and personal views are taken into consideration. In this way, it is hoped  that you will be able to decide on a course of action that honours your personal needs and keeps you as safe as possible. 

However, if this is not your wish, I suggest that you get ongoing support from a GP to monitor your health and your cancer.

If No to conventional treatment is your choice I advice you that you look out for a GP who supports you in your choice of treatment and that you look out for an experience cancer mentor / or and an transpersonal therapist and homeopath who can support you on your journey through cancer. You might would like to work with the Health Creation Programme. 

Decide that you are in charge of your life and of your treatment,  because you will undoubtedly find others - a doctor, a spouse, a friend - wanting to make decisions on your behalf, “all for the best” of course as they see it.

Remember that you have the right to a second opinion about your diagnosis and treatment. Asking for a second opinion does not mean that you don’t like or trust your doctor. Doctors understand you need to feel that all options for the best treatment are being explored. You can also ask whether your doctor has talked with other specialists at the treatment center. 


 Next page: Treatment Decisions

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