How Do I Tell My Treatment Team That I Feel Like I'm Not Being Heard?

Question asked by Jenn Tracz: If I feel that I'm not being heard by my treatment team, what should I say to my oncologist and nurses to ensure we have a good two-way communication process going?

Answer from Karleen Habin, R.N.: Jenn, communication is most important, particularly when you are diagnosed with a critical illness such as breast cancer.

What I really encourage you to do is be prepared for your visit. Write down the questions that you want to have answered by your medical team. And, if you feel as though the team is not listening to you, you need to be honest and open with them, and say, "I have expressed my feelings before, and I don't feel as though I am being heard; can you please help me?" I also think that you can align yourselves with other people who are at the physician's office or at the hospital, particularly your nurses.

Don't hesitate to tell your nurse that you feel as though you are having difficulty communicating with the physician. Sometimes the nurse can stay in the room, or sometimes the nurse or the counselor or the social worker can give you tips on how to better communicate with your physician. And then, at the end of the day, if you are feeling as though you just are not connecting or communicating well with this person, you probably need to find someone else that you feel comfortable with.