Cancer Survivor Offers Insight for Oncologists, Care Providers

10/26/17

Brianne Joseph, LPI, a cancer survivor and author of Punk Azz Cancer: How Dare You! How to Turn Your Pain into Power After a Cancer Diagnosis, presented on the levels of support provided by clinicians and other care team members at the Association of Community Cancer Centers National Oncology Conference (Nashville, TN; October 18-20, 2017).

A private investigator by training, Ms Joseph was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ at the age of 38 years. Her presentation touched on her experience as she navigated the complicated world of cancer treatment.

“All I was interested in was if I was going to die, when I was going to die, and how much time I would have with my babies,” Ms Joseph said.

Her initial doctor did not appear equipped to handle her emotional state. “My doctor was an excellent doctor and he was very professional, but he wasn’t very emotionally supportive of me, and he was very robotic in his explanation,” she said. “Perhaps if my doctor had given me a hug, or at least told me that everything would be okay, it would have made a world of different in that moment.”

Ms Joseph’s experiences, as well as conversations with other cancer survivors, inspired her to write and speak about ways that care providers can be supportive of their patients during treatment.

“You are some of the most intelligent people on the face of the earth, but it’s important that you remember to be a human being first,” she said. “Everyone can see the scars we bear frim our mastectomies or our lumpectomies. The scars that are the hardest to heal are the ones you cannot see.”

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Ms Joseph encouraged providers to view the concerns that patients have about their treatment as part of the overall experience, particularly in regard to younger patients.

“It’s equally important that we are given resources to support the emotions we are feeling, so that we can become empowered,” she said. “Empowerment is simply about giving us tools we need so that we can become advocates for our own health.”—Cameron Kelsall