Dr. Roy B. Sessions, a Cancer surgeon with superb credentials, is joining the Tidelines Blog with a monthly column. I interviewed Dr. Sessions one lovely Sunday afternoon, sitting outside on his flower covered deck in Seabrook. I had read two of his proposed columns for the blog and was impressed at his patient-focused treatment approach.
“Cancer care should be circumferential”, said Dr. Sessions, meaning everyone on the team should be giving support to the patient. “Cancer patients are intimidated by the illness; they are consistently frightened and scared, thus it’s the doctor’s responsibility to see that the patient understands what is going on. If the patient said he understood what I was saying, I would feel I had connected”, said Dr. Sessions.
In his retirement, he wrote a book about how the cancer treatment should unfold. The book is titled “The Cancer Experience, the Doctor, the Patient, the Journey”. In this book, Dr. Sessions lays out how important the role of understanding the cancer diagnosis and treatment is to the patient and the things the doctor can do to make the experience more understandable. The cancer experience should evolve with the help of a team of experts, all with one goal of getting the patient through the very difficult and frightening experience of cancer.
He talks about the toll cancer medicine can have on the doctors and other specialists caring for the patient. He feels this is part of the reason doctors can be arrogant; it is a self-protective mechanism that helps the doctor steel himself/herself from the pain of the patient. This may be true, but emotional involvement is critical to the process.
Years ago, doctors were unquestioned, and a deferential attitude was given to them which fostered an unrealistic attitude as to how the world was. Today with insurance companies setting up the rules, the doctor’s word is no longer accepted as gospel. The doctor is no longer the final arbiter of treatment. The modern attitudes have made the upcoming generation more inclusive. Dr. Sessions sees a young generation of people who is in tune to the emotional needs of the patient. Part of the message of his book is to help young people be good cancer caregivers.
We are delighted that Dr. Sessions has agreed to contribute to Tidelines. His first column will be posted on Sunday. It is entitled “Redefining Hope”.
Tidelines Editor Barbara Burgess