No one knows more about your body than you do – not your partner, not your parents, not even your doctor. So when you talk with any health care provider about your health, remember that you have valuable information to share. You know about changes in your body and about any problems you may be having. Share that information. Open and honest communication between you and your health care provider is one of the best ways to make sure you get the care you deserve.
To get the most out of each doctor’s visit, try following these guidelines:
- Be prepared. It is often helpful to gather information about your health concerns — from the library (books and medical journals), trusted Internet sites, etc. The more you know, the more comfortable you will be talking to your doctor.
- Organize your questions ahead of time. You should be able to talk openly and honestly with your doctor about breast health and breast cancer to make sure all of your questions are answered. To help you get started, Susan G. Komen® has a series of 17 Questions to Ask the Doctor topic cards on a variety of breast cancer issues. Each card contains important questions to discuss with your doctor. Space is provided for you to jot down the answers. Also, be sure to bring a voice recorder to capture your conversation so you can refer back to your doctor’s responses. These questions will help your doctor understand and address your specific concerns. You can download and print these cards to take to your next doctor’s appointment at www.komen.org/questions.
- Tell your story. When your doctor comes in, ask if you can take a few minutes to briefly explain your situation and concerns. Be as specific as you can. Then give the doctor your list of questions and ask them.
- Give feedback. If your doctor’s responses were helpful, say so. This kind of feedback will encourage your doctor to talk with you, listen to you and continue to help you. Doctors are just like anyone else; they want to do their job well. That means doing whatever they can to help you stay healthy or to get better. Remember, although doctors may know a great deal about breast health and breast cancer, they may not truly understand or be aware of all that you are going through. You can help your doctor help you by sharing your feelings and concerns.
Having a positive relationship with your health care provider can improve your chances of successful treatment and recovery.
We’re celebrating National Breast Cancer Awareness Month for the next six weeks. Connect with and follow Komen St. Louis and use the hashtag #bcjourney to join in the conversation.