THAT was my introduction to cancer. It was about 48 hours after my diagnosis and I was in the doctor’s office to schedule surgery. In the post-diagnostic haze I actually thought to have a lumpectomy with this man. The haze lifted the next morning, and when I realized that I could cry and act I cancelled my appointment and found another doctor.
From determining the right mammography/screening schedule, to weighing and making good treatment decisions, to talking about the numerous side effects of chemo, (and oh so much more!) the heart of GOOD medical care is the doctor-patient relationship. There is no substitute for the doctor who takes her or his time to get to know the person they are treating, who answers questions thoroughly (and even anticipates the ones unasked), who empowers a patient to learn and engage in their own health care, and who acts as a partner in health care.
The era of the all-knowing doctor and the passive patient is ending. I think that’s a good thing, but it shifts responsibility onto us as consumers. As patients we must step up to the dialogue as well. We can’t expect doctors to read our minds, to know our fears, or to make our decisions.
Health Key has a great article on how to tell a not-so-good doc from a great one! Hey, doc, are you listening?
Ultimately the strength of the partnership is up to us. If it’s not working, we need to make sure we’re doing our part. If we are, then it’s time to find a new partner!