We all hear about the importance of being an empowered patient these days. Men are encouraged to learn as much as they can about treatment options. This is important and necessary. How do you become an effective advocate for yourself? Could it be that rather than being an empowered patient you might be sabotaging your own treatment.
Join a support group, talk to friends read books, explore the internet and ask questions, be open and learn. So now you are armed with pages of material you have gathered how do you effectively discuss all of this information with your doctor? Sort through it and decide what your questions are. What is most important? About a week before your next appointment email or fax a list of your questions along with documentation that you want your doctor to read, to the office so that he doesn’t have to spend time during your appointment reading. Don’t overwhelm him with too much. Pick the most important for each appointment.
Do you feel as if you know more than your doctor? Do you approach each doctor’s appointment as a tug of war? You have read and learned a great deal about prostate cancer but your doctor has spent years studying and working with prostate cancer patients. You will both get furthest if you can work as a team. Don’t walk into the office assuming that you know more than your doctor. Instead walk into the office and assume that you are working together to find the best way to treat your prostate cancer. You are a team.
Do you talk to your doctor honestly and openly about what is going on in your life? Is your treatment making you feel depressed or irritable? Talk to your doctor about it and ask what can be done? Ask if your doctor can refer you to someone who has experience working with cancer patients with these issues. If you have problems with fecal or urinary incontinence that bother you then talk it over with your doctor. Don’t be embarrassed. You should not suffer in silence. Erectile Dysfunction is also something that men with prostate cancer may have to deal with and you should be honest with your doctor about what is happening in your life in this area also. There is no reason to suffer in silence because you may be embarrassed. You should also feel comfortable enough with your doctor to ask when you should seek out an expert in these problems.
Many men with prostate cancer take supplements or other non standard treatments. Have you changed your diet or are you eating special foods? Are you purchasing medications over the internet? These are also important things to talk to your doctor about. Some foods and supplements may interact with your treatments and your doctor should be aware of them. If you are afraid to talk your doctor about these things then you may have the wrong doctor. Open and honest communication is essential for successful treatment of prostate cancer.