Diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 2005 and liver melanoma in 2013, Sam Lozier has been a CHN Support Volunteer since 2007. She remains a dedicated volunteer – and a champion of patient rights. For more from Sam, visit her blog: You Can Handle The Truth.
Sam Lozier has lived with rare cancer for more than a decade, receiving care at some of the nation’s top facilities. In those years, through multiple recurrences, surgeries and treatment plans, she’s received care from hundreds of healthcare professionals. She was recently invited to speak at the Schwartz Rounds at Miriam Hospital in Rhode Island around her own personal journey in the health care system as well as improving compassionate care between doctors and patients.
It’s with this experience as a “professional patient” and heartfelt gratitude to the doctors, nurses and techs that have helped make life possible that she shares Four Things I Wish Every Doctor Knew.
Frame news in a hopeful way
While accurate information is key and legal compliance necessary, tone matters. “We as patients carry everything doctors say with us,” Sam notes. “Everything they say goes into a vault.” That’s why informative communication – delivered in a hopeful tone – can be key. Study after study shows that patients with hope are more likely to do better, to have improved outcomes. “We know that doctors are on our side, that they want us to do well, of course. And yet, if they come in like there’s no hope, it’s going to be a lot harder for us as patients to fight.”
Tell me to get a second opinion
“You don’t have to recommend someone, but please open the door to the discussion. A simple ‘many people get a second opinion’ is enough.” For better or worse, there is a power imbalance when dealing with doctors and other medical professionals. For patients dealing with a new diagnosis and the fog that comes with a flood of information and treatment options, the relief at being given “license” to seek out a second opinion can be almost palpable.
Keep in mind that patients have lives
My doctors recognize that I am a real person and not just a statistic. They encourage me to travel and work and have as normal a life as possible given the circumstances, and I'm grateful that they see me beyond the cancer.
Remember I didn’t go to med school
Life as a patient can be very overwhelming, with treatment plans, medication names and a host of other information flowing at warp speed. “It’s intimidating when they start talking to you like you’re another doctor,” Sam notes. “Thankfully my doctors don’t do that. Having them say ‘I’m going to present this information and I expect that you’ll have questions. I won’t leave until your questions are answered’ can be so helpful.”