On your Healthy Breast journey, you are probably seeing a naturopath, taking supplements and following a healing diet. And you may also be utilizing the expertise of an acupuncturist, a nutritionist, a life coach, a conventional oncologist …or all of the above! Let’s face it: it takes courage and commitment to be truly empowered about your health.
“The Doctor as Placebo”
In our culture, we tend to put health professionals on a pedestal. Think about it. When you were sick as a child, your parents probably took you to see a doctor who would “make it all better” (usually by writing a prescription). Even as an adult, the subconscious believe of the doctor as the “ultimately authority” when it comes to your health may still exist on a subconscious level.
In fact, some researchers say that the overall attitude of the healing professional has a direct effect on patient outcomes. This makes sense. Through lack of attention, arrogance or a focus on negative outcomes, doctors have the ability to turn on stress responses that can lead to immune suppression. On the other hand, through caring attention and focus on positive outcomes, they have the power to elicit the relaxation response that can “turn on” healing for a vulnerable individual facing a scary diagnosis.
The “Healing Roundtable”
When it comes to healthy patient-professional relationships, Lissa Rankin, MD, in her book Mind over Medicine, proposes what she and others call the “Healing Roundtable:”
“The Healing Roundtable is a collaborative process in which all health care practitioners involved in the care of the patient are equal players whose opinions matter. At the Healing Roundtable, the patient not the doctor presides as the utmost authority. While physicians may be invited to the Healing Roundtable, the invitation to be present does not grant doctors the right to give orders, negate the advice of others, disrespect others at the table or, most importantly, disregard the patient’s wishes.”
Setting up an actual meeting with all of your health care providers at the same time may not be practical. However, the vision of the “Healing Roundtable” can be a powerful tool to use as you choose the members of your “Healing Team.”
Imagine for a moment that you are seated at the head of the first meeting of your own Healing Team. Who do you want to be there? How do you want those present to act towards each other? Most importantly, how do you want them to treat you?
Write down your answers and review them OFTEN!
The 8 Questions to Ask Your Health Care Providers
Here are 8 questions you may wish to pose to them during the course of your visit or during a separate meeting. Take note of their answers. Afterwards, reflect on whether you can see them sitting at your “Table:”
- In addition to you, I am also seeing XYZ (healing professional) for this condition. Are you willing to collaborate and communicate with this/these professional(s)?
- Are you willing to answer any questions I may have as we go forward?
- Are you willing to be my partner in my healing journey?
- Do you truly believe I can get better?
If you are working with a conventional medical provider, also consider these questions:
- What are your views on nutrition and supplementation?
- What lifestyle changes do you recommend I make?
- What are my options if I decline XYZ treatment? (For this question, you are checking to see if the M.D. is aware of other treatments outside of the traditional ones and you are determining if he or she is willing to work with you at all if you decline their treatment).
- And if you are considering chemotherapy, ask your oncologist directly what specific things you can do to support your healthy cells during chemo, how the treatment will affect cancer Stem Cells and whether this would be the exact treatment THEY THEMSELVES would employ if they or a loved one were in your shoes.
Letting a Health Provider Go
Consider saying goodbye to a healthcare provider if he or she is consistently hurried or distracted during your appointments, if they present you with only negative scenarios or if you simply do not feel safe in their presence. Trust your intuition!
Most of all, don’t be discouraged. As more people like you become empowered in regards to their health, doctors are “waking up” too─ even within the halls of conventional medicine. Remember, you are a unique, intelligent human being that deserves to be treated with respect. The perfect team of caring healing professionals is out there just waiting for YOU!