Don’t Be Afraid To Keep Asking Until You Find the Right Formula
Last updated: March 2020
It is helpful – as a bladder cancer patient or caregiver – to keep in mind the idea that the medical system’s intention is to help you. If you don’t feel helped, do not be afraid to keep asking for help.
There are many well-intentioned, hardworking, and empathetic people working in the medical system. But it is a giant system, with often overlapping and inefficient processes and bureaucracies. Treatments often follow a standard protocol. Solutions to patient’s problems are often based on what has worked well for most patients.
Medications affect individuals differently
But every patient is an individual. And while the doctors and other health professionals have medical expertise, you have personal expertise. Just as you best know how caffeine or a lack of sleep affects your body, you also know how a given drug affects you. And just because it worked for most people, doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
Treating nausea from chemotherapy
I witnessed this phenomenon most acutely when my first husband was receiving chemotherapy for his metastatic bladder cancer. Nausea is a common chemotherapy side effect. The doctor had prescribed a widely used anti-nausea drug. It worked well for many patients. But for my husband, it made him very drowsy but it didn’t control the nausea very well. The worst of all worlds, if you will.
Communicating with your doctor
Soon after starting it, he told the doctor about how it wasn’t helping him. The doctor quickly shifted gears and prescribed a different drug. It was the right one. It made him less drowsy and controlled the nausea really well. With experimentation, my husband figured out the formula for when to take it for maximum benefit.
Your doctor's goal is to help you feel your best
Whether it is anti-nausea or anti-pain drugs or something else entirely, keep asking until you find the right formula. While it is the doctor who has the medical expertise, his or her goal is to help you feel your best and receive the best treatment possible. He or she will only know if this is happening if you tell him/her. I have encountered patients who are uncomfortable to ask or question a prescribed protocol. This makes me sad because I believe they suffer unnecessarily as they believe they are required to protect a doctor’s ego.
Good and empathetic doctors want to know what’s working and what isn’t. They want to help you feel the best you can. But they can only do that if the patient tells them what is working and what isn’t.
Has cancer impacted your mood during the holidays?