Receiving a cancer diagnosis is nothing short of a shock -- whether it’s you personally or a loved one. But it’s how you handle the journey that can really make all the difference in what the next steps look like. This episode of WE Have Cancer is all about patient empowerment and learning how to have a healthy relationship with the diagnosis. Lee is joined by Dr. Paul Anderson to discuss what he means by empowerment and how you can achieve it.
Dr. Paul Anderson is the author of “Cancer: The Journey from Diagnosis to Empowerment.” Through his own decades of experience, Dr. Anderson has seen first-hand what patient empowerment can do to someone’s care and how cultivating the right mentality can improve both the quality and quantity of someone’s life after a cancer diagnosis.
Table of contents:
What does patient empowerment look like?
A cancer diagnosis can be a supremely shocking thing that kickstarts a bunch of different emotions. How someone responds to that can be truly empowering. Dr. Anderson talks about what he thinks empowerment looks like in the face of a cancer diagnosis.
What makes up patient empowerment?
In order to be empowered through your journey with cancer, you cannot ignore it. Dr. Anderson believes empowerment involves having a healthy relationship with the cancer diagnosis, and being able to both face that head-on and being in charge of the situation.
Becoming an empowered patient
While the journey to empowerment takes on different looks at times, Dr. Anderson found it involved getting beyond the anger, denial, and confusion of the cancer diagnosis. Ultimately, it boiled down to not being a hapless victim but taking charge.
Bob and Gia
A part of Dr. Anderson’s book involves the journey of two patients -- both at different ends of the spectrum in handling their diagnosis. While both dealt with the anger and difficulty with their initial diagnosis, Bob stayed stuck there while Gia embraced the journey. Dr. Anderson found that taking Gia’s empowerment approach tended to improve the quality and quantity of life a patient had.
Living like Gia
Becoming empowered is a step-by-step process. Some steps will be harder for some while others may already have them figured out. But Dr. Anderson designed the book to help hand hold people through to acceptance.
Mindfulness and other integrated medicine practices
Dr. Anderson has noticed things like meditation and mindfulness exercises have started to gain more acceptance as a part of cancer treatments in recent years. They can be used as a part of patient empowerment.
Regular cancer scans and lab work can be some of the most anxiety-inducing parts of the journey and can be problematic even years after an initial diagnosis. Dr. Anderson notes that it’s normal to feel that anxiety but the trick is to understand it’s going to happen so you can better accept it. Dr. Anderson also points back to meditation and mindfulness as a way to go from acknowledging that anxiety to tempering it. Lee shares his own story about dealing with anxiety and patient empowerment.
Links mentioned in the show:
Dr. Anderson's website - https://www.consultdranderson.com