What to Do When You Disagree with Your Doctor
Did you miss me yesterday? Dan and I had to get up early around 5:30, for a doctor’s appointment. Yes, even in uncertain times, its important to keep up with your health.
We have been back in the states for about nine months and still trying to find the right doctors for Dan. Its been very hard to find an open-minded doctor in this part of the world. It took going back to our family doctor, to tell him that we did not like Dan’s urologist. He found us one in a town called Christiansburg, however its about an hour by bus. This appointment was made three months ago and cancelled twice by the doctor’s office. So, Dan did not want to cancel again, even under these uncertain times. This leads me to our adventure yesterday. The appointment was at 9:45, this meant that we would have to start out real early. Our favorite Lift guy came to pick us up to take us to the bus station. Luckily, only another person besides the bus driver and us were on the bus. We made it to the other town and approached the building that the doctor’s office was in. There was a nurse standing in front with armor on her and mask with a little table and a pad of paper with some medical products.
She asked who we are going to see. Dan told her the doctors name and she then stated just the patient is allowed in. Well, that made Dan nerves; for we both usually go in to see a doctor. Especially a new doctor!!! Dan explained to the nurse the situation that we came from out of town and had to take a bus ride an hour away. She then asked both of us some questions and took both of our temperatures. Then went to ask her supervisor if I can sit in the lobby.
I guess, I passed their corona-virus protocol and we both were able to enter. It went very well; both were able to talk to the doctor. Next time, he stated that we can do a phone visit. Its refreshing to find an open-minded doctor that will work with Dan’s needs. We have worked so hard to keep our bodies healthy with more alternative methods.
This leads me to this question; do you have to agree what the doctor feeds you (the methods that he states)? I learned long ago that doctors are not Gods and the only thing different is they went to school and learned what someone taught them.
I posted an article on MONDAY, APRIL 9, 2012
FIVE ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE STARTING CANCER TREATMENT
Please know that if you are newly diagnosed with cancer, you have CHOICES. Whether it be an integrative, complementary, or a completely alternative approach to your treatment, you are not powerless. Your doctor is there to guide and work with you, not to order and instruct you.
The below questions are designed to get you thinking. If you or a loved one has been newly diagnosed with cancer, I think you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to spend some time pondering these. Pray about them. Educate yourself until knowledge overcomes fear. Then decide what is right for you.
5 Questions to Ask Before Agreeing to Any Cancer Treatment
1. If I didn’t do any treatment for 6-8 weeks, how could my cancer progress?
After going through initial biopsy and staging procedure, this should be your first question. Find out how your cancer behaves. Learn as much as you can from your doctor and your own research. Don’t focus on the treatment! Learn about the actual cancer.
Whether your cancer is aggressive or indolent, an immediate switch to a diet high in organic, raw juices, salads, and smoothies, and free of all sugars, meats, and processed foods will slow your cancer’s growth and begin to re-build your immune system. Also consider supplements that strengthen the immune system.
As soon as you are diagnosed, there is no time wasting. You will be surprised about how long your doctor will wait to schedule you for your treatment. Testing alone takes WEEKS.
It has taken years for your cancer to develop to its present condition. You should immediately begin an anti-cancer diet. There is no reason to wait, no matter what treatment you decide on!
2. What are long term side effects and what are the conventional treatment cure rates for my type and stage of cancer?
Following your diagnosis your oncologist will immediately begin to teach you about the schedule of chemotherapy and radiation you will receive for your cancer treatment. Learn about the side effects and decide if they are something you are willing to risk, especially knowing that there could be long term effects AND a greater risk of developing a secondary cancer later.
When you study survival statistics, you have to understand that the survival rates for cancers in the U.S. are marked by a 5-year survival. It doesn’t take account if someone dies the day after their 5-year “cancer-versary” or if they still have cancer. They just have to be “alive” 5 years from diagnosis. It also doesn’t take into account that person’s quality of life during and after treatment. For example, for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, one of the most curable cancers with chemotherapy and radiation, the 5-year cure rate according to the American Cancer Society is 84%. According to a large 2004 clinical study, the number is closer to 40%.
You will also want to ask your doctor for the Material Safety Data Sheets for the doctor’s recommended chemotherapy regimen. These will list all chemicals involved and their short- and long-term side effects.
Also, do not be shy about asking another doctor for their opinion.
3. How is the rest of the world treating cancer? How much does my oncologist know about alternative cancer treatments?
Although much of the Asian and European medical world has been influenced by the American pharmaceutical industry, there are many clinics in these areas that are treating patients successfully without chemotherapy or radiation.
International doctors are much more likely to view the body in a holistic perspective than American doctors.
Your standard American oncologist probably won’t know much about any treatment except the big three: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. He/she may be aware of clinical trials available, but in the most case there are still side effects and these trials are still pharmaceutical. Long-term side-effects and efficiency aren’t known as well. Your oncologist will not prescribe you an alternative treatment since a “treatment” is not a drug if it lacks FDA approval.
Oncologists are great for teaching you about the behavior of your cancer and monitoring you by blood tests and scans.
If you decide on an alternative treatment you may find it helpful to have a knowledgeable holistic MD or naturopath to help coach you along the way. One way to do this is to visit your local health foods store and find the free health magazines/ publications. They’re usually near the entrance. Call the natural practitioners listed in there and ask around by explaining your situation.
4. What about conventional treatments that will guarantee that my cancer won’t come back?
Many supporters of conventional treatment believe that chemotherapy and radiation is the elite cancer cure, but one look at even generous statistics, and you can see that is not the case. It is true that chemotherapy will kill cancer cells in most cases, but it also kills large amounts of healthy cells along with it. Let’s say you do obtain remission with conventional treatment. If you don’t change the underlying habits that led to your cancer in the first place, how are you insuring yourself against the cancer coming back?
Your immune system will be battered during chemotherapy and radiation. It is important to eat as much of an anti-cancer diet while going through conventional treatment to help counter the negative effects. Please know that your oncologist should know any supplements or foods you are eating. There are some foods that can interfere and weaken the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
5. What if the conventional treatment doesn’t work? On the other hand, what if I did alternative treatment and it doesn’t work?
Oh boy, was this one I struggled with. First of all, the side effects were AWFUL. Heart damage, hair loss, nausea, anxiety, depression, secondary cancers, and infertility.
Also, if for some reason the first round of chemo didn’t work, I would have had to go through another 4-6 months of a different chemo. After that, my only hope would be a clinical trial or a last-minute attempt at an alternative treatment.
I chose to pursue FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE. It is much more difficult to do it the other way around after your immune system has been taxed by chemotherapy and radiation, sometimes multiple times. My biggest worry was “what if the cancer gets worst and is much more difficult to treat?” With close monitoring, this is not a problem. Have a cooperative oncologist keep an eye on the size of the tumors and any tumor marker tests or blood tests that can show progress. Consider HcG testing.
As long as you are proactive with an anti-cancer diet, your condition should not drastically worsen in 4-6 weeks, which is the amount of time most alternative protocols take to show progress. The more aggressive the cancer, the more intense the protocol needs to be from the start. Like I said before, learn about the behavior of your cancer to weigh this decision. Consult with more than one doctor.
Remember that the goal with alternative therapies is to build the immune system and holistic health of the person, not to rid the body of tumors. Tumors are symptoms of a deeper problem. Rejuvenating and supporting the self-healing process will help your body rid itself of cancer without using toxic chemicals. If for some reason the initial alternative protocols do not work, you can change or add additional protocols. There are hundreds out there.
Research, Research, Research
Do your RESEARCH! Have an advocate work with you. The amount of information you will learn in those first few visits to your doctor will be daunting.
You should also ask for permission to Audio Record your cancer decision conversations with your doctor. Cancer can put us into a mental fog and we don’t always hear everything the doctor says.
If you have a friend or family member who has been recently diagnosed, send them this. It is VITAL that we as patients are well-informed and make decisions out of knowledge peace- NOT out of fear.
Here is an article that I found that explains- What to Do When You Disagree with Your Doctor
Be honest and upfront about your concerns and consider seeking a second opinion.
By Heidi Godman
YOU RELY ON YOUR DOCTOR to give you sound advice about your health. After all, he or she has gone through extensive training and likely has lots of experience treating people with conditions just like yours. But what if you don't agree with the wisdom your doctor has to offer?
"That depends. Do you disagree with the doctor's diagnosis or the doctor's recommended treatment plan?" asks Dr. Michael Perskin a geriatrician at NYU Langone Health.
Doctors make diagnoses by considering many aspects of health, including a physical exam and factors such as:
Medical history (your age, gender, weight and past health conditions)
Risk factors for disease (such as a high cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease)
Family medical history (for example, any links to cancer or diabetes)
Medical test results
The doctor is an expert at interpreting the information and figuring out what it means.
Why would you disagree? It could be a gut feeling. Maybe you just know the heart palpitations you're experiencing aren't linked to stress, as your doctor has suggested. Or maybe you have a symptom like fatigue that could have many explanations, such as a sleep disorder, an underactive thyroid or depression.
Perskin says patients often disagree with their doctor because they've made a self-diagnosis after reading something on the internet. "They come in with conclusions, not symptoms," he explains.
Sometimes those endless Google searches can actually be a good thing for doctors. "That might be very helpful if I'm not an expert on a particular subject, like a rare heart condition. I'm not a cardiologist, so I'll listen carefully," Perskin explains.
It's not helpful, Perskin notes, when patients take information from the internet out of context and want diagnostic tests that are inappropriate. "That's when things get tricky. Now you're negotiating over what should be done," he says.
Perskin frequently hears from patients who want blood tests for Lyme disease because of news reports about ticks carrying the disease or patients who want MRIs because they have a little lower back pain.
"This creates tension in the relationship. And if the patient is negotiating with you, then in a sense they're questioning your authority or ability to help them," Perskin says. "It's difficult."
It can also be risky for health. For example: "A patient might insist on a CT scan of the belly because they think there's something wrong with their gallbladder. But usually a sonogram is more accurate," Perskin says.
Doctors recommend treatments based on symptoms, conditions and health guidelines. But you may disagree with a recommended course of action because:
You've heard about a medication's side effects. For example, antidepressants are associated with sexual dysfunction. Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors for heartburn is associated with low levels of magnesium and vitamin B12 and an increased risk for hip fractures and potentially life-threatening infections such as pneumonia and Clostridium difficile, a digestive system infection.
You don't want to endure the treatment. For example, the standard treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (pauses in sleep caused by a blocked airway) is continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, which involves wearing a device that sends a constant flow of air down your throat while you sleep. A lot of patients feel it's uncomfortable to wear the device all night.
You don't believe you need it. For example, you feel you can avoid knee replacement surgery by doing physical therapy and getting knee injections.
You're worried about complications. Maybe your doctor recommends that an enlarged prostate should be treated with surgery, which is associated with side effects such as incontinence and sexual dysfunction.
You think another treatment would be more effective or safer. Perhaps your doctor has recommended proton pump inhibitors to treat heartburn, but you'd like to try to manage the condition with diet first.
Disagreeing with your doctor about treatment – and not following the plan – can be risky. If you have high blood pressure, for example, and don't take the medication your doctor prescribes, that can lead to even higher blood pressure and an increased risk for a stroke. The same is true if you don't use CPAP or another means of treatment (like a special mouth piece) for obstructive sleep apnea, which also increases the risk for stroke.
Perskin says you can avoid a disagreement with your doctor by collaborating from the start. That means being upfront with your doctor, sharing your concerns and asking lots of questions. You can do this by:
Writing down your symptoms and bringing a list to your doctor's appointment. "Think about what makes it better or worse and what time of day it's occurring," Perskin advises.
Keeping an open mind and leaving conclusions at home. Even if you feel the symptoms point toward one particular condition, remain flexible and see what the expert thinks first.
Bringing a printout of health information from the internet that you want to share. Make sure it's from a reliable source. "If it's not a peer-reviewed medical study or the result of clinical guidelines, it's not an appropriate resource," Perskin says.
The Second Opinion
If you still disagree with your doctor, you can always seek another doctor's advice. "A good physician simply does not resent a patient wanting to get a second opinion," says Dr. Steven Nissen, a cardiologist and chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic.
Perskin says that getting a second opinion often confirms an initial diagnosis. "That's good because you want the patient to be comfortable with the diagnosis and treatment plan. If they hear multiple voices in agreement, they'll say, 'Gee, I ought to listen to them.'"
But it doesn't always work that way, both doctors point out. "When I see people for second opinions, it's about 50-50 whether I agree with the treatment. That verifies that the patient's concerns were legitimate," Nissen says.
Getting conflicting opinions can be challenging for the patient. "At this stage in my career, most of what I see are second, third or even fourth opinions – people who've struggled and gotten contradictory advice," Nissen says. He sometimes calls a patient's doctor to talk about the differences in treatment approaches.
But ultimately, your treatment is your decision.
So how do you break it to your doctor that you want outside advice? "Be straight up," Nissen says "Look someone in the eye and say, 'I've greatly appreciated your care over the years, but this is a big decision and I'm not sure about it. Is there someone you can recommend who can see me to give me an independent opinion?'"
What if you still can't agree or the doctor won't cooperate? "The question is – is it a big point or a small point you disagree on, and do you want to continue with the doctor?" Perskin asks.
"Health care is not here to serve the physician," Nissen says. "It's here to serve the patient."
The bottom line is, its your body and you have the right to go to a doctor that you both agree on with the methods of treatments. You are paying for this advice and you have the right to seek other advice if you do not agree.
What are some things you don’t personally have but you appreciate nonetheless?
Back to hunkering down, staying my distance and living life. Dan and I still keep up with walking 3 miles a day while keeping our social distance. Just because most of us are home, doesn’t mean that we have to feel tied down. During this uncertain time, why don’t we make the use of the modern equipment to reach one another. I’ve seen a lot of clever things being done.
What have you been doing that is clever and different? Love to hear from you, please send me a message or a story that I can share on the blog firstname.lastname@example.org
Until tomorrow, stop and smell the roses.