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When diagnosed with a disease that will require long-term care, like mesothelioma, it’s important to establish a relationship that’s built on mutual trust, honesty, and a willingness to support each other throughout the entire treatment process.

There’s no doubt about it: Building such a relationship can be hard. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by thoughts about the new diagnosis, how treatment will affect yourself, your family, your finances, and many other things.

With that in mind, we’ve created a list of things that patients and their families can do to help build a quality relationship with their doctor(s).

Inform Yourself

The biggest reason to inform yourself is so that you can ask more incisive questions when you talk with your doctor. Unfortunately, many medical professionals spend less time with individual patients than they did in the past, which means it’s critical that you make the most of every interaction with your doctor. (More on that below.)

Empathize...but Hold Accountable

Given that doctors today are pulled in so many different directions, it is important for patients to understand that their medical professionals feel the burdens from all of their patients. Having questions and concerns prepared ahead of time can help make the most of the time you have with your doctor directly.

At the same time, if you feel your doctor is distant or not addressing your concerns directly enough, speak to them about it plainly and forcefully. In the long run, being clear about your expectations as a patient will help you build a more honest and candid relationship with your doctor than holding back and waiting for the information you need.

Be Forthcoming

Honesty isn’t a matter of simply saying true things – it’s about telling the whole truth. In order to provide the best recommendations possible, your doctor needs to know everything about your medical and health-related history.

Therefore, don’t hold back when your doctor asks about things that might be embarrassing or uncomfortable. Whether it’s something that seems relatively silly, like eating an extra dessert when you’re on a strict diet, to extremely private issues like sexual history, don’t withhold information from your doctor that could potentially affect your treatment and prognosis.

Get Organized

One of the best things you can do is to start a notebook that has one purpose only: to chronicle your health journey. In this notebook you can document things like:

  • Questions to ask your doctor
  • Topics to research on your own
  • Your medication and treatment history
  • Effects of medications and treatments
  • Thoughts and emotions related to your health

All of these things will help you in your discussions with your doctor and other caregivers. Even noting things that might not seem related at first – such as feeling tired or a change in appetite – can help give your doctor clues to adjustments that need to be made in your treatment program.

In the end, keeping a notebook of these items will also indicate to your doctor the level to which you are dedicated to following your treatment program. This can open up opportunities to discuss concerns and doubts you have with your doctor about your treatment, or lead to other conversations that otherwise might not come about.

Move Forward Together

Finally, the best thing that you can do to develop a relationship with your doctor is to know that you’re both moving toward the same goal. Although you might disagree at times or not entirely understand exactly what each medication or treatment does, it’s important to understand that your doctor wants you to be healthy just as much as you do.

Ultimately, doing these things will help you become more comfortable with your doctor, as well as your overall treatment plan. And when it comes down to it, feeling better is what all of the appointments, medications, therapy, and other interactions are all about.