At HC Marbella we believe that communication between the doctor and the patient is so important that we will continue to discuss it in this post. We want to help you traverse the long road that you have ahead, a road that you should not take “alone”.
Although it is difficult, you should take an active role in making medical decisions. You must try to form a team with the specialists. It is key to develop empathy within your team.
It is key to be well-informed and maintain a realistic dialogue about expectations. You should ask your doctor for all the necessary information in order to clearly understand the disease and the treatments that they will administer.
Make your own questions. There are neither good nor bad questions. You choose them. As we have said in other posts, it is recommended that:
• You write your questions as they come up between your visits, and bring them with you to the next appointment. Be aware that cancer treatment often requires more than one doctor. You may even have a team of doctors, nurses, and other people who are part of your treatment. You will obtain information from each of them, so it is best that you choose a single doctor to ask your questions.
• You write down your doctor’s instructions and are sure that you know what you need before you leave the appointment, in order to follow the instructions word for word. We recommend that you bring a diary with all of your questions and worries written down to each appointment, so that you do not forget to ask anything.
To continue, here we suggest some questions in order to obtain some basic information about the cancer and the decisions you must make:
What type of cancer do I have? What is my diagnosis?
What are the recommended treatments?
Are there other treatments?
What are the benefits of these treatments?
What are the risks?
How long will I need treatment for?
Which medicines will I be prescribed? What are they for?
What will I feel during the treatment?
What are the side-effects of the treatment?
What can I do to combat the side-effects?
• Effects of the treatment: How will my life be affected by the treatment? For example, will the disease or treatment stop me from working or make it so that my family must care for me? How can deal with the disease if I live alone? Will I be able to have children after the treatment? Will I have some physical limitations? Of course, if you desire more information about your treatment, please consult your doctor. Ask them if they can provider you written information, such as pamphlets, etc.
• Starting treatment: Is it okay to delay the start of the treatment? Perhaps you have some upcoming vacations, a wedding, a graduation, or some other important event you would like to attend before beginning treatment. Maybe you feel that your doctor is waiting too long to do the surgery or start chemotherapy. It is possible that you think that each day that passes is one lost. Ask you your doctor about any doubt you have. It could be convenient to delay treatment by a short period of time. In some cases, it is necessary to give the patient time to become well-informed about their disease and the treatment most appropriate to their situation.
• Contact numbers: What time can I call my doctor in case I have a question? Some doctors have a special schedule for phone calls. Wait for your doctor to return your call. Remember that, probably, you won’t have a quick response if another patient is having a crisis. In many cases, the nurse will also be able to answer your questions. Where should I call if I have an emergency? What can I do if the emergency occurs after working hours, during holidays, or on the weekend?
• Your medical information: Who else will have the information about my case? Should some other doctor know the information? If you want your doctor to communicate your condition to your spouse or other family members, let them know. It could be that you will have to sign a sheet saying that the doctor may speak about your case with other people.
• If complications happen: Always tell your doctor if there are any side effects due to the treatment or the cancer itself. It may be very important for your doctor to know the physical symptoms that appear during (and even after) the treatment. People with cancer may have pain, nausea, fatigue, and problems breathing, with sleep, appetite, and diarrhea, among other problems. With the help of your doctor, many inconveniences can be prevented or mitigated. Inform yourself with the following questions:
– Which class of symptoms you have and how your feel.
– Hour in the day that you usually notice your symptoms.
– The gravity of your symptoms.
– In which part of your body that you feel it.
– How long it lasts.
– What alleviates or worsens the symptom.
– In what ways does it affect or interfere with your daily life.
– If you continue having problems, tell your doctor what works and what doesn’t. In many cases, you must fight the symptoms in many ways in order to keep them under control.
– If you feel sad, overwhelmed, or without help a majority of the time and your feelings persists, and tell your doctor about it. There exist many classes of emotional distress that arise with cancer and its treatment, and surely, it can be treated.
– Remember that the doctor will take your questions seriously, be interested in your worries, and will not hurry to finish the appointment with you. If your doctor does not respond in this manner, mention it in your next appointment.
Listening to patients, understanding their worries and those of their loved ones, and having realistic expectations about the disease is fundamental to the patient’s ability to make the best decision for themselves.
January 18, 2018
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