Patient Blogs | Breast Cancer
Communication, Respect, and Trust: Foundations of a Strong Doctor-Patient Relationship
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I’ve been surrounded by doctors my entire life. Growing up, I often tagged along with my dad, who’s a cardiologist, to his office or the hospital on the weekends. I always enjoyed talking to his colleagues in the hospital lounge, while mischievously taking advantage of the numerous snacks available to me. 

My siblings and I used the treadmill in my dad’s office to compete with each other for the best stamina. After defeating them every time, I’d reward myself with a handful of lemon candies at the welcome desk. Back then, the doctor's office represented a fun place to unleash my energy and curiosity.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, going to the doctor’s office was no longer fun for me. It became a place of fear. No number of trips to the physicians’ lounge during my childhood could’ve prepared me for how many doctors suddenly became a part of my life upon my diagnosis. 

On the first day I was officially welcomed into the “cancer club,” I met with four physicians and received referrals for several others. My oncologist, gynecologist, breast surgeon, and plastic surgeon were among them. 

Prior to meeting my oncologist for the first time, I wrote down eight questions I had about my diagnosis:

“What stage is it?”

“Am I going to lose my hair?”

“What if I absolutely do NOT want to lose my hair?”

“Do you think this will kill me?”

“What caused this?”

“Can you replace my breast?”

“What treatment option will get me out of the hospital the quickest?”

My oncologist answered my questions with honesty and grace. This allowed me to communicate openly with her from the start. I continued to write down questions before each appointment, which helped ease my anxiety before going into them. Over time, the fear of not knowing what news I would receive during an appointment was replaced with confidence in my entire care team.

Although I was only 21 at the time of my diagnosis, my doctors never treated me like I was too young to make my own decisions or know the details of my treatment plan. I felt a sense of mutual respect from them. They told me everything: the good, the bad, and the ugly. One particularly challenging conversation I had was talking with my gynecologist about fertility. 

Before my diagnosis, children were not on my mind. I knew that I wanted to be a mother one day, but I didn’t foresee that day coming for a long time. When my gynecologist informed me that chemotherapy could impact my ability to bear children, I was devastated. Ultimately, it was my decision whether or not I wanted to pursue fertility preservation, which would delay my treatment start date by a month. 

Weighing the pros and cons of starting potentially life-saving chemotherapy immediately or securing the option to have children in the future was tough. However, having the guidance of my doctors and being able to trust that they only had my best interest at heart made the decision to freeze my eggs easier.

As a child, I watched in admiration as my dad’s patients thanked him for his care. However, I didn’t fully grasp how crucial having a strong doctor-patient relationship is until I was the one thanking my doctors for their care. 

Like any other relationship, it requires good communication, mutual respect, and trust to build a strong foundation with your doctor. I’m so thankful to continuously receive all of these things and more from each doctor that has been a part of my journey. 

To connect with other breast cancer survivors, join our Breast Cancer Facebook Support Group



Photo Credit: Maskot via Getty Images

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Brianna Osofisan

Brianna Osofisan

Diagnosed since 2019

Brianna Osofisan, 25, is a triple-negative breast cancer survivor. She is passionate about using her experience to educate and empower other women to get to know their bodies and advocate for themselves. Brianna is also a travel enthusiast and has visited 26 countries and counting. She most recently lived in Madrid, Spain, where she taught English for 2 years.

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