Health Magazine

Breast Cancer Manners

Posted on the 05 April 2012 by Jean Campbell

breastOver the years, I’ve spent many hours in treatment waiting areas with my own breast cancers and as a patient navigator visiting with recently diagnosed women and men. 

I have come to know that breast cancer treatment waiting areas have their own expected patient and patient companion manners that are necessary for patient comfort.

Breast Treatment Area Manners I’ve Picked Up Along the Way:

  • Waiting room seats fills up fast. Limiting a companion to one person, who is willing and able to give up his or her seat for patients coming into the waiting area, is really a necessity.
  • Waiting areas include patients on all levels and types of treatment. All patients and companions should skip the perfumes, strong scented soaps, hair sprays and body lotions in deference to those battling nausea.
  • Smokers need to refrain from leaving the area to go outside for a smoke. When a smoker returns to the waiting area the strong odor of smoke on clothes and breathe can also make patients feel nauseous.
  • If you need to eat food in a waiting area, bring foods with little to no odor as food smells can be very difficult for those receiving chemotherapy.
  • Wearing tight sweaters, low-cut tops with lots of exposed cleavage and halters are really in poor taste.
  • Be aware of your conversation content when you are sitting in close quarters. New patients may inaccurately apply what you are speaking about to their situations.
  • Know that people who are waiting in treatment areas are no strangers to fear and tears. Don’t be embarrassed if you cry. You don’t need to justify your tears, they understand.
  • A treatment waiting room is not the best place for young children. If possible, have a family member or friend care for your child at home, even if it means you have to forgo having someone accompany you.
  • If you are feeling that you might be sick, speak to a nurse and asked to be seated away from others in the waiting area.
  • If a fellow patient is feeling chatty and you’re not, just say you are not feeling well and need to be quiet.
  • Don’t stare and don’t turn away from the patient who looks worn and frail. Know that she is very aware of how you look at her and that can effect how she feels about herself and her situation.
  • While you can identify with other breast patients in the waiting area, don’t compare. No two breast cancers are exactly the same. No two people experience breast cancer the same way emotionally, physically and spiritually. Identifying gives you a basis for relating. Comparing, more often than not, can leave you second guessing about a number of things that will only increase your anxiety.

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