The Patient-Doctor Connection

A common experience among folks living with metastatic breast cancer is we spend a ton of time inside doctors' offices. I travel downtown several times monthly to check in with my oncologist or get bloodwork. Every few months, I travel to receive scans and infusions, and I repeat that until my treatment plan changes.

Why your cancer center matters

It can be easy to feel like a robot doing these regular tasks. I am essentially a number on a wristband that people don't remember. For the entirety of my cancer treatment up until 2023, I attended the same treatment center. I saw the same people and did the same therapies in the same rooms.

At the time, I longed for a change. I imagined attending a new center with different colored walls and diverse faces. I wanted something else, and now that I have something else, I find myself missing the old place.

Qualities of an effective cancer center

Now, I have tasked myself with trying to find that "something else" I wanted back home in Seattle.

Interior design

A few qualities should be prioritized when you're looking for a new cancer center. Since you will be spending a lot of time there, the interior should be comforting and pleasing. Sure, there will be normal anxiety; however, feeling good about where you are receiving care is essential.

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High-quality care

Make sure the nurses are getting taken care of. There is nothing quite like a burnt-out nursing staff. Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of that. It is a recipe for bad pokes and clipped responses. This one is tricky to investigate beforehand, but you'll know on your first visit. If you can have an advocate go to your appointment with you, they can ask the hard questions.

Positive rapport

My previous oncologist in Seattle was highly personable and caring. I liked that most about her. That can be really hard to find in a doctor.

Since we rely on our healthcare team for survival, cultivating a good relationship with them is vital. Building rapport and feeling comfortable communicating are paramount to a solid relationship. Finding someone willing to put that groundwork in could make or break that trust.

I always make sure to get comfortable with whoever will do my labs. I get a little woozy during bloodwork, so I know how to set myself up for success. Being comfortable with who is poking me is super important because if I'm not, it's not happening. I swear it's like my veins know when I don't trust someone!

Advocate for your care

There is a laundry list to finding a cancer center where you can comfortably receive care. There should be, though! It is your care. You receive the care, so you deserve a quality experience. Having a doctor on our side is vital to our survival. It helps us feel confident in our care plan and allows us to live our life to the fullest.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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