Communicating with doctors: Practice when you're healthy!

This morning's news feeds brought my attention to 2 important stories:

Men not told of severity of wife's cancer

Breast-conserving surgery leaves many cancer patients disappointed

Both of these stories reflect the same core issue: that we (men and women) are not empowered to seek ample information from care providers. So, what to do?

First, practice how to communicate with your care provider when it isn't urgent. That way, when you are in an urgent situation, you are prepared to seek the information you need.

After that, keep practicing until you have established trustworthy communication with a doctor or nurse. Why is that so hard for so many of us?

If you are a woman with breast cancer, or you love someone with breast cancer, do your best to educate yourself about breast-conserving surgery vs. mastectomy (with or without reconstruction). Find pictures of options online. It is important to get help understanding surgical outcomes, asymmetry, scar tissue, etc., and finding your own comfort within the necessary trade-offs. (Easier said than done when staring down a cancer diagnosis, I realize . . .)

Likewise, before a husband can readily "hear" a loved one's terminal cancer diagnosis, he has to practice "hearing" about menopause and other basic women's issues.

Guys, consider it good practice to contemplate your wife's vulnerability while she is healthy. Remember: practice, not perfection, is the name of the game.

And, just in case anyone needs this helpful piece from Y-me?, here are 10 ways of being there for your wife when she cancer. . .

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