Cancer patient doctor relationship

A Delicate Dance: Negotiating the Doctor-Patient Relationship During Cancer Treatment

cancer patient doctor relationship

Caregivers can learn a wealth of knowledge about the disease and their own emotions by building a relationship with a cancer patient's doctor. "Dr. Schapira is a known champion for strengthening the doctor-patient relationship, in particular, through patient education," said ASCO. Breast cancer patients' expectations in respect of the physician–patient relationship and treatment management results of a survey of

Worst of all I was in a tremendously weakened physical condition and my psychological state could best be described as anxious and confused.

Colorectal Cancer - Patient Doctor Relationship - Carol H

My trust in my surgeon began to deteriorate due to communication issues. While he is a highly skilled oncological surgeon, like many doctors he is not strong when it comes to exercising interpersonal communication skills. He rarely spoke to me or came by my room—we never really had a conversation to reassure me or to discuss my condition in detail. In about the second or third week of being confined to a hospital bed with orders not to consume food my fear and imagination began to run out of control.

Was my surgeon really qualified and capable? Had he played any role in creating the serious complications I was now facing? Meanwhile, some family members and other non-medically trained individuals only increased these suspicions and fears. I have a deep appreciation for the relationship between the patient and oncologist, and for some of the metaphors associated with their joint efforts to treat and cure cancer. Though I know little about team sports, the notion of two or more people working together to beat an opposing side is appealing to me, and while war is distasteful, there's no doubt that the image of battling and ultimately annihilating cancer is a very powerful one.

Yet, it's the metaphor of dance that most resonates with me. The oncologist and patient's movement together through a sequence of both predictable and unpredictable steps in their best efforts to treat and defeat cancer creates a partnership that can be demanding and difficult, but also treasured. As in a powerful dance sequence, the partnership between an amenable patient and skillful oncologist can evolve in ways that allow revelations about the self to emerge.

Benefits of Building a Relationship with Cancer Patient's Doctor

The patient—oncologist partnership can provide rich lessons, not only in treating cancer, but in negotiating, in following and leading, and in trusting yourself and your partner enough to be honest, vulnerable, and intimate.

I spent 3 years in the care of my hematologist—oncologist. After months of medical investigation that involved numerous visits with my doctor, I was diagnosed with a rare cancer.

Given the rarity of my cancer, some of my closest supporters couldn't fathom why I would stay with a doctor who practiced at a local community hospital rather than transfer to a specialist at a world-renowned cancer center. At their urging, I sought second, and then third, medical opinions. When the other physicians had no additional expertise, I returned to my doctor.

cancer patient doctor relationship

Certainly, I thought about leaving my oncologist for a new health partner in my cancer care. But, I didn't want to make a change.

Incredible Benefits of Building a Relationship with Cancer Patient’s Doctor

There was a familiarity about the partnership with my doctor that comforted me. My oncologist and I had grown accustomed to each other. We developed a rhythm that was often predictable yet also provided space to improvise.

As my cancer treatment progressed, we found ways to make the partnership work. My oncologist gave me lots of freedom to participate in my own treatment decisions.

cancer patient doctor relationship

In solidarity with me and along with my friends, he wore bright orange clogs at each appointment, even long after I abandoned mine because simply looking at them made me feel nauseated.

He read oncology articles that I sent him through the mail. Giving and getting information Each doctor has his or her own way of helping patients learn about cancer and cancer treatment.

Some doctors and patients are better listeners than others. Good communication is the key. Think about what you need and want from a doctor. Here are some ways to help you remember everything your doctor tells you.

Take notes on what your doctor says. Ask if you can record your talks. Take a family member or friend with you. They can help remind you of questions to ask and take notes for you. If you have questions between doctor visits, write them down as they come up. Keep a notebook to help you stay organized. Remember that other members of your cancer care team can answer many of your questions, too.

If you need more details after your doctor answers a question, say so.

cancer patient doctor relationship

If you want to learn more about the cancer or your cancer treatment, ask your doctor to suggest some reading materials or trusted websites. What type of cancer do I have? What is my diagnosis? You may want to ask them to write it down for you.

The Doctor-Patient Relationship

What does it mean for me? What treatment do you recommend? Are there other treatments? What are the benefits of these treatments?

Ups and downs in physician - cancer patient relationship

What are the risks? How soon do I need to start treatment? How long will I need treatment? What medicines will I get?

cancer patient doctor relationship

What are they for?