Real Life Cancer Caregiving

Advocacy Series: #3 – Respect Your Power

You know your body. You know your loved one’s body.

You know their medical history, how they respond to treatments, how they feel about a procedure, and what it means when they say ‘quality of life’.

You and your loved one want a doctor and medical team who is open to exploring ideas and opinions with you.

If the connection isn’t there, if either of you feels rushed when sharing concerns or do not feel heard and understood, ask for someone else. If it feels ‘off’ in your gut, ask for someone else. If they cannot look at both of you during discussions, ask for someone else.

Sometimes personalities just don’t mix.

Working together, find the right members of the medical team that mesh with your personalities and goals. The doctor is one member of the team and they are a contributing partner. They don’t get an extra vote when decisions are to be made.

They don’t have to live with the outcome – we do.

Your loved one is the power center and conductor of their care.

When things get tough, having the right team that you trust and that understands your goals will reduce stress and set the situation up for greater success all around.

Active advocates view the doctor-patient relationship as an equal partnership, not hierarchical. Don’t give away your power.

Word of Caution: Some doctors might get uncomfortable with your asking questions or debating options with them. Let them get uncomfortable – it’s their issue, not yours. We met with three urologists until we found an individual that listened to both of us, acknowledged both of us, was thorough, compassionate, didn’t dismiss or minimize concerns and was willing to explore options.

What Jeff Has to Say…

“It’s easy to fall into the trap of giving away your power when you’re in treatment and highly medicated – or in a lot of pain – because it’s easier.

I try to stay strong and fight for what’s best for me. It can be really hard. What helps is reminding myself what’s important to me – and then staying on that path. The best doctors we work with are those that are willing to talk with me and with Jen. They are willing to talk through the ideas we bring to the table.

This is my life – I control it and I have a say in what will or what won’t be done to me. I think about when I was diagnosed with head & neck cancer. The doctor assumed I was going to undergo chemotherapy plus radiation. When we challenged the decision, the doctor took the final diagnosis to their peers. After reviewing, they supported our decision not to proceed with chemo. Being able to evaluate the data and outcomes as a team made all the difference. In the end, it was my decision. I was owning what I wanted for my health versus deferring to someone else.”

Advocacy Series - Respect Your Power

Now it’s your turn…

What ideas do you have to respect your power while navigating the medical maze?