Prior to my book launch, I was invited to speak in a state level Cancer Awareness Seminar. The event was attended by cancer patients, healthcare providers, and the general public.
During the Q&A session afterwards, while most of the questions revolved around detection and treatment, there was this gentleman who introduced himself as a cancer survivor. He was treated with leukemia few years back and is currently doing well after a bone marrow transplant. He had gone through a rough time with this – the biopsy, chemotherapy, and bone marrow transplant. He voiced the troubles he had faced during his initial consultation, when he was informed about his condition.
I agreed with him on this issue. Initial confirmation of cancer creates a blank and stormy mind. The mind becomes clouded and is unable to simply accept information. Time itself stood still while some may also experience physical symptoms. Some of the patients I talked to described feeling nauseous, headache, tingling sensations, difficulty in taking deep breaths, palpitations and others. This gentleman remembers coming out from the doctor’s room feeling uncertain with questions that were left unanswered.
Please do not feel bad if you experience this. It is completely natural as we are only human. I am a physician, yet I feel stunted and inadequately trained to handle such occasions.
Do write down the things you need to ask on your upcoming and subsequent visits. The more we write, the less our brain needs to process it. It does help in some stress relieving. We would feel more organized, boosts our confidence and self-worth.
Do ask the doctor to slow down and explain again. It is their job. I personally never felt irritated when was asked to reexplain medical conditions, simply because by asking I can be assured that the patient is paying attention and is willing to learn.
It is ok to say, “I can’t take in all of this ….” It is ok. We are only human.