Breast Cancer on the Run in October: (Day 8) Information Empowering Women

October 8: INFORMATION EMPOWERING WOMEN

img_1081For the breast cancer patient today, the days of the stuffy, paternalistic doctor, the all knowing doctor in a starchy white coat, are over. The internet has changed everything….for better, for worse.

We do live in an era of information overload. We also live in an era where more good, solid information is available to more folks than ever before. For the breast cancer patient, I think this is a good development.

Nobody ever seriously reads up on breast cancer before they develop it or before someone close to them develops it. Why would you? When confronted with difficult personal decisions about treatment and prognosis, the search begins.

The good news is that there are hundreds of excellent sites dispensing important, useful information. Many decisions in breast cancer treatment are difficult. No site will make the difficult decision for you as to whether you should do a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, whether to do chemotherapy or not. But they will give you information and present arguments pro and con to assist your decision making.

The flip side is that there is also a great deal of awful, useless information on multiple sites. After many years I am still explaining to patients that underwire bras (can’t believe I am discussing this) and aluminum based deodorants are okay.

The challenge of modern life is not finding information but rather knowing how to process it. Perhaps this is never more true than now with information being so readily available.

Perhaps the role of the physician taking care of a breast cancer patient is not to dispense information that was once exclusive and private, but to help patients understand and navigate the nuances and implications of information that is now readily available and that has empowered women.

Doctors sat on a throne in generations past because they knew more facts and because there were few who could challenge their knowledge base. Doctor knows best.

Throne sitting is out; collaboration between doctor and patient is in…..

I

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