I get pretty fiery about this… hence creating a blog dedicated to this topic.
You are not your cancer…
Not a number…
Not a statistic…
YOU ARE A HUMAN BEING.
There are good doctors, bad doctors and great doctors…
You are entitled to a great doctor who listens to you, respects your concerns, gives time for your questions and treats you with respect.
Just because a doctor is assigned to you in the general referral process, DOES NOT mean you have to use them and DOES NOT mean you can’t seek a second opinion.
I’ve been pretty fortunate with my care, I’ve only changed one of my doctors because it just didn’t sit right with me. More importantly though, building a relationship with your doctor takes time and you need to be true to yourself in what is acceptable and not acceptable.
One of my initial specialist consults had me fearing for my life… yes, I know, I had cancer and it was threatening my life. However, when I go to hear about treatment and what they aim to do in order to protect my life, I was constantly referred to as my tumour i.e. “You’re grade 3 and it’s aggressive (as if I am grade 3 as a person)”. And, “We’ve got one chance to treat the tumour, if it metastisises, I’m afraid I can’t do anything for you, I suggest we go aggressive in the first instance for treatment”.
“You are a young woman with a grade 3 tumour in which WE need to treat”.
“Let’s take an aggressive approach to treatment so we can give you and in turn your family the greatest chance of your survival”.
Please speak as though you are on my team. It really is so much more encouraging.
At times during consults, I would feel like screaming out, “My name is Bec, I’m a wife and mother and friend and daughter and sister, I love running and sunshine and writing and my friends and family and laughter and fun and living…
“I – AM – NOT – MY – CANCER”.
I am not THE grade 3 tumour, the tumour might be inside me, but the tumour isn’t me, SO TALK TO ME, the person, the human with a heart and try not to be so blunt and scary…. I’m already petrified. PLEASE BE ON MY TEAM WHEN YOU SPEAK TO ME.
Don’t get shitty if I have too many questions… I’m not questioning a washing machine warranty, I’M QUESTIONING MY LIFE. If I have a side affect, I want you to hear me, listen to me and acknowledge me.
There are some incredible medical professionals out there, and I’m so grateful to say that all of my doctors, who currently take care of me, are second to none. They are wonderful, patient and caring. They took the time to get to know me… How I think, how I react and how I process information. They are part of my team because I want them to be, they respect me and I respect them and their extensive knowledge and professionalism.
If you have a doctor that doesn’t listen to you or respect you as a human being, you absolutely have the power to demand a higher level of care.
I agree that they (the doctors) need to keep a particular level of distance, particularly in the oncology field; they see their patients die and professionally can’t afford to be personally invested. For the sake of their own wellbeing, they need to draw a line and ultimately provide medical guidance, treatment and care. However, if you ever feel like an inconvenience or are miss-treated, then perhaps they are not your most suitable medical professional.
It gets tricky living regionally, obviously we don’t have a vast choice like the capital cities, however, we are growing and there are options (even if that means travelling).
If you don’t feel strong enough in yourself to express your feelings, perhaps a support person can advocate on your behalf?
Above all, I am truly grateful for the incomprehensible amount of work doctors put in to firstly study general medicine and then onto specialist studies and grueling assignments, exams and underpaid intern work just to make it to where they want to be (i.e. years and years and years and years and years and years and years and years of hard work, discipline and constant training to remain skilled).
I want you to respect me for me. Respect my courage and determination to get through adverse situations (surgery, treatments etc). Respect that I won’t always be on my ‘A game’ in terms of mood or predictability, because I am fighting for my life… And I’m scared, so please be patient with me. Please respect that I will have questions and sometimes I will be confused… I promise that if you take the time to educate me, I will fight harder, be stronger and tougher knowing that I’ve taken active control in my battle and I have knowledge and confidence in knowing what we are trying to achieve TOGETHER. I want a partnership with you, not a dictatorship. I don’t expect you to be my friend; I just request respect and understanding so we can take the bastard (CANCER) down”.
P.S. This content also applies to any medical condition.
© Copyright 2016 becbraid