One of my main purposes for my websites has been to provide breast cancer patients with information about what is happening in the cancer world so that we can all be educated and knowledgeable when making the very best decisions for our own choices for treatment and care. This began when I was first diagnosed in 2007 and was faced with a situation where I needed some help in this arena and I could barely find any information on the Internet. Now there is so much information that it is hard to review it all and narrow it down and figure out what might be applicable to one particular situation. So I have been doing the research and posting what is the most updated info that I can find in an effort to help patients have what they need when they meet with their own medical professionals. But, little did I realize the need for every patient to have an advocate until this week.
…it has become absolutely necessary that every breast cancer patient research for themselves all of the information and options that are available to them and take that information back to their medical team for discussion and consideration. At the end of the day, if you can walk away from your appointment feeling that the best choices have been made and all of your questions have been satisfactorily answered, you will put yourself in a position to have the best outcome possible. Barbara Jacoby
The landscape of medicine changed entirely when practices were forced to go to electronic record keeping. You may have noticed that despite their best efforts, the focus has to be on the electronic devices rather than the patient. Rather than a doctor being able to jot down their own handwritten notes in their own personal format as they meet with the patient so that they can focus on the discussion, everything has to be electronically entered in a certain format so that the info is recorded in a manner that will allow for acceptance for reimbursement from the patient’s insurance. The time and effort that must be spent on this exercise takes away from the appointment itself and any additional time that may have been available for research, etc. Therefore, it has become an absolute necessity for a patient to either advocate personally or have someone that is willing to do this on his or her behalf.
There is another aspect that must be considered. In my own experiences, I found two occasions where I needed to research and act on my own behalf. The great part is that my primary care physician was totally open to the situations and research that I had located and was willing to go above and beyond to bring about the desired results. Having such a medical professional to advocate for me in some tricky situations was more valuable than I could possibly explain. It gave me such a sense of relief to know that I was being heard and that I had a doctor who cared about her patient enough to spend her time, personal research efforts and finding the best resolution possible in both cases. And for some reason, I was naïve enough to believe that the issues that I encountered were just my own and not matters that the average person was encountering. But, the more I interact with others who are currently facing their own medical issues, the more I am finding that my situation was absolutely the norm and not the exception.
Therefore, I would strongly recommend that everyone who is dealing with breast cancer or any other medical condition find a way to advocate for yourself. There is no doctor who can keep up-to-date on every single new development in every field. You or your advocate needs to become knowledgeable enough to be able to ask questions and have all of your concerns considered and answered so that you feel that regardless of the treatment prescribed, you are comfortable with the fact that it is the best for you and that you have trust in the members of your medical team that they will produce the best outcome. However, if you do not feel comfortable with a medical professional, I suggest that you ask to be referred to someone else. If you find that a course of treatment that has been prescribed to you does not seem to be what you may believe is best, don’t hesitate to request a second opinion before you proceed. You may not be a medical professional but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make meaningful contributions to your own care and treatment nor does it mean that every doctor to whom you may be referred is the right match for you.
Most importantly, we must remember that every person that is a trained medical professional is also a person who is dealing with life on a daily basis just like everyone else. Just as we go to work and do the best job possible, those in the medical field do the same thing. However, they, too, have personal and family matters that can distract them and cause them to miss something that may be of critical importance in your case or they may not have the time to explore all the alternatives that may be available in treating your particular medical situation. Therefore, it has become absolutely necessary that every breast cancer patient research for themselves all of the information and options that are available to them and take that information back to their medical team for discussion and consideration. At the end of the day, if you can walk away from your appointment feeling that the best choices have been made and all of your questions have been satisfactorily answered, you will put yourself in a position to have the best outcome possible. And if you find that such is not the case, then you should seek a second opinion in order to confirm what is best for you and that will give you the peace of mind that you have done your best and that you can proceed with the knowledge that you are receiving the best treatment available to you at this time for your particular circumstances. After all, there is no on who cares more about your life than you do so why should you settle for anything less than the best care that is available to you.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.