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How To Be More Assertive At The Doctor’s Office

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / photostock

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / photostock

How To Be More Assertive At The Doctor’s Office

One of the things I hear all too often from my breast cancer coaching clients is that they are tired of being bullied by their doctor when they want to investigate more natural ways to heal breast cancer, and many ask me for help on how to be more assertive at the doctor’s office.

Really – this is a big deal.  People who are going through breast cancer are having to make lots of decisions about their treatments in a pretty short period of time.

The decisions that need to be made are scary, and if the wrong decision gets made, it could be quite detrimental to one’s health and, ultimately, life.  So that part is hard enough.

Many of the people with whom I am working are wanting to go a more natural route.  Some may choose to have chemotherapy and/or radiation and use a blend of natural therapies, some don’t want the toxicity of chemotherapy or radiation at all, and some will depart from their oncologist’s recommendations when it comes to the subject of hormone blocking medications.

Dealing With The Dinosaurs

Regardless of a person’s choices, it has been my observation that the more forward-thinking doctors are okay with their patient’s choices and support their decisions.

Every once in awhile, however, we run across a dinosaur.  A doctor who absolutely refuses to see their patient’s argument and gets mad at them for having an opinion that is contrary to what is being recommended.

The dinosaurs are apt to say all kinds of negative things like, “Well you will be seeing me again in a few months when the cancer comes back.” or “You will be sorry that you made that decision.”

The most heinous thing I was ever told by one of my ladies is that her doctor told her “You are a dead woman walking.”  Can you believe that?  It  still makes me madder than a wet hen.

So how to deal with the dinosaurs?  

It can be a scary thing, going against your doctor’s orders.  I know a few women who just about have an anxiety attack when they know they are going to have “that conversation” with their doctor.

Assertiveness is a skill that takes practice.  It may be much easier for you to swallow your feelings and just crumble, but how will that make you feel later?  You won’t be happy about it, I promise.

Please note – I am not advocating that you go against your doctor’s orders or recommendations.  But if you have decided upon a different course of action and are dealing with a dinosaur, here are my best tips.

7 Tips On How To Be More Assertive At The Doctor’s Office

1.  Most importantly, know that this is YOUR body.  You get to say what happens to it.  If you are not happy about your doctor’s treatment plan, and you have done the research and decided upon a different course of action, that is your prerogative.  You have every right to do this.

2.  Don’t go in unprepared.  Think about what you want to say.  Print off the research that you have been reading that leads you to believe your course of action is the better one.  Prepare the words you want to use ahead of time.  Visualize the meeting beforehand, with you speaking your truth and your doctor listening, and it will go much more smoothly.

3.  Realize that by saying NO, you are not hurting the doctor’s feelings.  In an hour or two, he/she will most likely forget all about this conversation.

4.  Take a friend or spouse with you – someone who will absolutely have your back and support you if you start to crumble.  Another set of ears to listen and take notes is always a good idea.

5.  While you are in the doctor’s office waiting to be seen, do a little deep breathing.  This helps ease your worries and anxiety.  Breathe in what you need – peace, serenity, strength, resolve – and breathe out feelings of anxiety, worry, and fear.

6.  Be specific, calm, honest, clear in your words, and be respectful.  Make eye contact and use confident body language.  The doctor will see that you mean what you say.

7.  Keep emotions in check.  This is not a time to cry or shout or lose your temper.  Keep your voice even and firm.

At the end of the day, realize that your doctor works for you, not the other way around.  You are not there to please them.  They are there to help you get better and you get to have a say in what happens to you.  By all means, listen to their arguments for a particular type of therapy, but if it doesn’t make sense to you, you have every right to seek out another doctor’s opinion and you have every right to say no.

I wish you much healing on your journey.

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