The story of Rhio O’Connor is inspirational because James O’Connor had the ability to keep his will strong when faced with forbearing news, and to fight for his life by making sure that he was completely informed about what types of cancer treatment was available. While most patients succumb to fatalism when they are diagnosed with a dire cancer prognosis, James had the capacity to embrace the fact that there may not be enough time, and that finding the most necessary fact-based information beyond the information given by the doctor was more important. Current therapy for Mesothelioma has proven to be rarely effective. Radiation and chemotherapy have shown adverse side effects to nearby organs; and combined methods of Chemo-radiation with surgical procedures have had no efficacy in cases of advanced Mesothelioma where the cancer metastasizes and spreads. Given the outlook of treatment, there is no wonder why patients feel that there is no hope of treatment. James O’Connor’s perseverance and volition to spend hours in the library, and to find as much resources and options as possible allowed him to outlive his prognosis for more than six years. If given a dire prognosis, I would follow O’Connor’s footsteps to make an informed decision about my diagnosis. Like O’Connor, I would use healthy skepticism to investigate all options available.
The first step I would take to make an informed decision would be to understand the information given by the doctor. The most important part of making an informed decision is to have complete knowledge, and understanding of the diagnosis, and treatment. Understanding the diagnosis entitles knowing the symptoms, the severity of the diagnosis, and prognosis. Asking the doctor for interpretations of the statistics for the type of cancer may help cope with issues of why one has certain symptoms. I would think about how physical and functional changes associated with the progression of symptoms would affect the quality of life, finances and lifestyle. In regards to treatment, I would take into account the doctor’s discussion of treatment options. Of the therapies offered, whether it be surgical or from clinical trials, I would investigate the long and short term side effects, and , as O’Connor did,look at the theories and philosophies behind them. Standardized consent forms provide thorough information about the general and specific risks involved in treatment, and discuss alternatives to treatment.
In addition, I would ask the doctor for more than one source of information for further comprehension. Medical hospitals have attempted to help the patient understand about the prognosis and treatment options by providing different mediums of informed consent. These different intervention mediums include written materials, computer-interaction, and multimedia consent tools. It is important to understand the informed consent in legal issues, and if will be satisfied with consequences.
There is an abundant amount of information available outside of the hospital. While the primary doctor provides a comprehensive amount of information, they may not have all the possible resources that are helpful. Typically, they will make referrals to other practitioners, and specialists for a second opinion. Libraries and online databases provide current publications of research on clinical treatments, and books and journals on consumer health. In addition, I would seek advice and support from national organizations and community organizations. Online sites such as the National Cancer Organization provides answers to frequently asked questions about many types of cancer, and has links to additional resources.
The capacity to understand the information provided by doctors is a necessity to make an informed decision. It takes much reasoning and assessment of oneself to decide if a form of treatment is the right treatment. Even with the capacity to understand, understanding the information presented takes patience as one may get lost and confused by the complicated journals, and complex issues. However, the best approach is ask the physician to clarify information as well as to supplement it with research done outside, in libraries or online, or by other practitioners.
By: Fung, Iris