Doctors and Their Role in Motivating Cancer Patients

In Breast Cancer, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

It is that time of the year again for me to get my annual physical with my primary care physician and testing with my oncologist and I must say that I really dread it. The not knowing what, if anything, might be wrong is the hardest part for anyone and I spend way too many hours of fear and apprehension as the appointment dates approach. However, I do show up and do what I am instructed but I have recently learned that such is not always the case with many more people than I might have imagined.

You should never allow your fears or past experiences to every interfere with your receiving the treatments or testing that you know that you should be receiving. Barbara Jacoby

Fear is keeping way too many patients away from doctors’ offices and that can be an even greater mistake and/or risk for anyone who has dealt with cancer or has a family history of cancer. Most often, the patient may think, “what if the cancer is back” or “what if the cancer has advanced”? I understand those fears but what if the cancer has not returned? That knowing is priceless. And if it has returned, the sooner you know, the better so that you and your medical team can make determinations about your treatments, as you choose, before it might become too late to have any options.

Now for some patients, they choose to blame their doctors for not being motivated to either follow their suggested treatment course or to report for their follow-up screenings and appointments. Most often, this is because they were intimidated or disrespected during previous interactions. Now they are afraid that they will be chastised or summarily dismissed when it comes to asking questions or sharing concerns.

While I do understand this type of thinking since I have had such medical professionals treat me in such a way, I don’t think that any of us should ever allow any doctor or their representatives to control our health concerns in this way. It is not the responsibility of a doctor to motivate us to do the best for ourselves. And it certainly is never the doctor’s responsibility to know that something they did or a member of their staff did has resulted in our hesitation to follow up with our treatment if we don’t share with them whatever it was that so affected us.

Therefore, if you think that your experience may have been an isolated incident, you might want to consider giving that doctor another chance. After all, doctors are humans, too, and might have been having a bad day when you last saw them. But, if you really don’t want to see that same doctor again, you must take the initiative and find a new professional to take their place.

The bottom line is that no doctor is responsible for your treatment. Only you have control over that. And if your hesitations are strictly fear of the unknown, then try to discover what may help you to overcome those fears. Talk to a friend about how you are feeling and perhaps having them go with you to a doctor’s appointment or screening test will be just what you needed especially if you focus on doing something fun after the appointment. Or if you are afraid and have no way to overcome your fears on your own, why not ask for the assistance of a professional who is trained in assisting in such matters.

You should never allow your fears or past experiences to every interfere with your receiving the treatments or testing that you know that you should be receiving. You and your life must come first and you should know that you have every right to do whatever is necessary for you to put yourself first in this arena. After all, it may be a matter of life and death.