How to Feel Like an Active Partner in Your Care

October 31, 2022

As someone receiving care for breast cancer, have you ever felt a power imbalance with your health care team? You’re not alone.

There is often this power imbalance present between health care teams (specifically physicians) and patients. Feeling rushed for time, physically uncomfortable or not fully understood can put you at a disadvantage. It can leave you feeling like you’re “less than” or being talked down to. It can be dehumanizing and disempowering.

Time to level the balance. Below are some practical tips that can help make you feel like an active partner in your care and not a passive partner.

These tips were inspired by a presentation about this imbalance given by Nathalie Baudais, co-chair of Rethink’s MBC Advisory Board, to medical oncologists at a conference. While these suggestions were shared by someone who lives with MBC, they also can resonate with the entire breast cancer community at any stage, and in fact, anyone who encounters a health practitioner.

Here they are:

• Does something in your life make it difficult to comply with the treatment plan? Responsibilities like taking care of children or elderly parents might not be on their radar, but sharing can help work out a realistic plan together. 
• Feel rushed during your appointments? Questions going unanswered? Ask for extra appointment time when booking. Or, if you have a list of unanswered questions, ask for another appointment or a follow up email.
• Feel exposed? Before your care team discusses results or a treatment plan with you, ask to be off the exam table and fully dressed. 
• Is your reality making things unrealistic? Let your team know about the challenges you face – financial, travel or support – so they can help access available resources. 

Have more tips to share? Send them to us at jasmine@rethinkbreastcancer.com.


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