If you have received a diagnosis of mesothelioma—a form of cancer which results from exposure to asbestos—then you are likely going through a very stressful time in your life.
One of the primary things you must remember is that clear communication is essential, in your home, with your doctor, and with your attorney. First, let’s discuss how communication can make a huge difference in your interactions with your doctor.
If you are like most people, you have probably experienced moments of miscommunication while at a doctor’s appointment. After all, it can feel as though physicians and those they treat exist in two completely separate universes.
Following a diagnosis of mesothelioma, however, communication with your doctor is particularly important, as mesothelioma is often advanced when it is found, and can be quite aggressive.
You will be making very significant decisions regarding your treatment preferences, and communicating effectively with your doctor will make those decisions much easier. If you are lucky enough to have an oncology team that meets collectively, then the main communications you will be responsible for, will be to keep your family informed.
Some of the primary barriers which exist between doctors and patients include:
On the patient’s side:
Some patients tend to be overly polite with doctors and other professionals, and, as a result, can shy away from asking their doctor tough questions which need to be asked.
Cancers such as mesothelioma are complex, and a patient may have a lack of healthcare knowledge and can find it difficult to understand medical terminology.
Your emotional state after receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma can cloud your judgement on the elements of your care.
If you don’t have an oncology medical team, then you may be seeing multiple physicians for concurrent ailments, which can make it very difficult to ensure all your doctors have the same information.
On the doctor’s side:
Overbooked schedules can dictate the amount of time your doctor spends with you, leaving you feeling rushed, and dismayed that you did not get answers to all your questions.
Some doctors have difficulty explaining complex medical information to a patient. Some doctors can also exhibit a lack of sensitivity, seeing you merely as a “patient,” than as a person who is devastated by the diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Seven Key Skills for Communicating with Your Attorney
Communicating with attorneys can have some of the same challenges as communicating with a doctor. Attorneys tend to use “legal speak,” just like doctors tend to use complex medical terms.
Below are some ways you can enjoy better communication with your attorney:
- Try to use in-person communication for the really important issues, or, at the very least, telephone communication. E-mails and texts are good for communicating short bursts of information or facts, but not so good for conveying your emotions over a subject.
- Because attorneys, like doctors, are frequently overbooked, you may sometimes leave your appointment disappointed because you feel as though you weren’t able to have all your questions answered. Take a list of your questions to your meeting, and work your way through the list, making sure you understand the answer to one question before you move on to another.
- Accept the counsel of your attorney. You selected this firm for their experience of past cases, so he or she has been doing this for a very long time with both experience and legal knowledge on their side.
- Try to be open to what your attorney is telling you, rather than dismissing his or her advice simply because you don’t like it.
- When your attorney asks you a question such as “what sort of resolution are you looking for,” take some time to think about your answer, then answer truthfully and thoughtfully.
- Understand that a lawyer makes his or her living by the time spent with clients, so don’t drag out your story or your answers. Make sure you are clear and succinct.
- While your situation certainly is emotional, try and contain your emotions to the best of your ability in order to hear what your attorney is trying to tell you.
Good communication also extends to your family. Remember they are probably just as scared and anxious as you are.
Although it can be very difficult to step outside yourself once you have received a diagnosis of mesothelioma, try to keep the lines of communication open for family members, doctors and your attorney. This time of your life may be unfamiliar territory, but keeping your team informed will ensure everything will be handled the best way possible.