Breast Cancer: What Do We Expect From Our Doctors?

In Breast Cancer, Dealing with Medical Industry Issues by Barbara Jacoby

In an article that I read, a doctor was describing what he tries to do in order to motivate his patients to change their behaviors. The more I read, the sadder I became. When did it become the responsibility of our doctors to try to persuade a patient that he/she needs to lose 100 pounds in order to have a better chance to deal with their breast cancer? When did we decide that it is up to the doctor to lay out an exercise plan for a patient in order to improve her life after months of non-activity following surgery and chemotherapy and radiation? Why should we expect our doctors to persuade us to take our medications or to undergo the follow up testing that is recommended for us to determine whether our cancer has returned? Why do some people believe that it is OK to act like children when they are patients and expect their doctors to respond like a parent?

“I recognize that there will be patients who need extra care because they do not understand what the doctor is recommending.Barbara Jacoby

I don’t understand this. If we are undergoing treatment for breast cancer, we are adults. It is our responsibility to address our medical situations as adults and allow for our doctors to provide for us as the medical experts that we need in order to deal with our care and treatment. I don’t think that there is a single person who is excessively overweight who does not know that she needs to lose weight. I don’t think that there is any person who would expect a cancer surgeon to do a lumpectomy or mastectomy without first determining whether there is cancer to be removed through testing with a mammogram, ultra sound and a needle biopsy so why should anyone have to be cajoled into having the requisite testing? And it is our responsibility to follow the directions for care of ourselves after surgeries and treatments.

I recognize that there will be patients who need extra care because they do not understand what the doctor is recommending. There are also those patients who need a bit more hand-holding because they are afraid about what they will be facing in treatment and only the reassurance of their doctor for whom they have the utmost respect will help to calm them and help them to feel that everything will be fine.

However, if a person does not plan to or wish to do what is required for successful treatment and recovery, it is not the doctor’s responsibility. A person who chooses to do something that is counterproductive to the recommended treatment has an underlying problem that should be addressed by a psychiatrist and not a cancer specialist.

For some patients, they also choose to treat the doctor’s staff members as their own personal staff. Some expect that an assistant should run out and put more money in a parking meter when time is running low. Others expect that the staff members should be watching their small children while they see the doctor or they leave the children in the waiting room where they disturb other patients. And then there are those who engage in arguing with the staff over other matters such as the billings from the insurance company or insisting that they need to be seen before other patients because they are in hurry.

I don’t know about anyone else but if I am entrusting my care and treatment to a particular doctor, I have put my own life into their hands because they are the ones who are educated and have practiced in this area. Therefore, it follows that I respect them, their work, their office, their staff and their time and expertise. And this is why I believe that every other patient that enters that doctor’s office should do exactly the same.