Conflicting information causing worry?


Question from Carole: I'm feeling overwhelmed with information, much of it conflicting. I get recommendations from my doctors, but ultimately it's up to me what combination of chemo/radiation I go with. How can I stop worrying about making the best choices?
Answers - Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W. That's a difficult point to be at. The trick is, after doing research, to choose a physician that you feel confident in and to go with the judgment of this person that you have selected to take care of you. As much as we like to be a partner in our care, we don't have time to come up to the learning curve. You have to develop trust in a physician to make decisions for you. If you see a lot of doctors, most of them will come up with the same thing.

I think it's helpful to remember that when you're given a choice by a reputable physician, then clearly whatever you choose is going to be the right choice; there is not going to be a wrong answer. The other part is that you need to confine yourself to the information you get from your physician—the one you have chosen—and not to be swayed and disturbed by the information you get from everybody on your block. Unfortunately, when it comes to illness, people feel too ready to give others advice. Unsolicited, they will tell you what their neighbor or aunt did. You need to filter that stuff out and deal with the reputable people that you have selected who know your particular situation. These decisions are based on who you are and the ramifications of your diagnosis. No matter how many people did it 'X' way, you are different and the way you are diagnosed is different, and you need to have the confidence in the person that you have selected.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. It's normal to feel very uncomfortable making big decisions based on unfamiliar information, particularly when you feel that your life is at stake. These decisions do not need to be rushed. What is very interesting is how important it is to process the information you collect over time and talk to your family and friends about the information and recommendations given to you by your doctor. Through talking things out you can usually figure out the best direction for you. The idea is that you eventually make the best decision that you feel most comfortable with.

Making sense of complicated medical information on breast cancer, so that you can make the best decisions for your life, is actually the mission of breastcancer.org. Also, usually breast cancer is treated by several different physicians as part of a team approach. You may feel a little anxiety dealing with fragmented care. It's the communication between you and your doctors (and between each of your doctors) that can bring you the best from each person on the team in a coordinated fashion. And if you don't feel confident and trusting about a doctor on your team, perhaps it would be helpful to get a second opinion or find another doctor who can fulfill that important role.

On Wednesday, June 19, 2002, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Dealing with Breast Cancer Fears. Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions about aspects of breast cancer that cause concern.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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