NYT: The Rules of Cancer, Slow Down/Exhale

Great advice and suggestions. And important article for both professionals and patients! When you receive that cancer diagnosis it can be an out of body experience — your ears may ring as you find yourself stuck in a very strange movie– you watch the doctor talking but can barely hear him/her — it’s as if he/she is talking in slow motion. Ironically, this all happens as your heart races and you feel your life changing in front of your eyes.
As Ms. Gurland so aptly stated, SLOW DOWN! Exhale!

Some food for thought: 1)make sure you bring someone to all your visits with medical professionals. You need that extra ear. 2)have that person bring in the questions you have prepared and have he/she take notes and most of all: 3) don’t get trapped in the “white coat syndrome”. The doctor is a human being just like you. Tell the physician how you prefer to receive your information — in small doses, in a language you can understand and of course, empathically.

Take back the power. As you can see from Ms. Gurland’s powerful article, This is ALL ABOUT YOU!

As a medical social worker/psychotherapist working with cancer patients and others challenged by chronic illness, I have developed a series of workshops entitled “Asking the Tough Questions”. I conduct workshops for patients and their loved ones and other seminars for healthcare professionals.

Both sides need help in communicating when it comes to issues such as cancer.

The 20-minute doctor visits do not produce collaborative relationships between patients and their healthcare teams. Information is lost and patients are not sharing information that is essential to living their lives and addressing their illness. Too many patients are intimidated by medical professionals and the medical professionals don’t have the time or are overly committed to maintaining that “professional distance”. What do you do if the questions you have are not only about issues directly related to your illness but also include how your illness affects your daily life – work, parenting, relationships – sexuality and intimacy?

Give yourself voice! It will serve you well.

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