Communicating With Your Physician

When you are being treated for a cancer diagnosis, it is especially important to have good communication with your physician. Good communication is one way to ease your fears related to the diagnosis.
Even very assertive people can be intimidated in a conversation with their physician. Knowing you are the "patient" talking to your "doctor" can be quite overwhelming.
Here are a few tips that may help to improve communication with your physician. Try them out and see how they work for you.
Use "I" messages. Sometimes, when you are trying to tell your physician what you need, it can help to start sentences with "I think" or "I feel" instead of "You should."  Example: "I feel like I need more information" rather than "You should give me more information."

When you are listening to your physician, listen very carefully, show you are listening through body language, and repeat back to the physician to make sure you understood correctly. You may
even want to write things down so you can remember them later.

Don't be embarrassed or afraid to ask questions if you are not sure you understand.

If you don't understand an answer your physician has given you, you may ask them to ephrase it. Similarly, if your physician does not answer your question, you may ask the question in a different way.

Before your visit, you may want to write down a list of questions or concerns. Bring the list with you and refer to it when you are talking with your physician.

You may also want to bring a family member or friend with you to your visit. A companion may help to take notes, or can help to remember things your physician has said.

Be assertive, and don't be afraid to say what you think, feel or need. It is possible that you might share things that your physician did not expect or assume.
Remember, your opinion is important! You should feel like you are an active member of your healthcare team.
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