Due to the nature of your job, you will need to exercise sensitive communication with your patients. Even if they seem calm and confident, understand that they may be dealing with severe forms of cancer. It might not take much to upset or worry them as they struggle to cope with a potentially life-threatening illness. Discuss how you would communicate with a patient who was about to receive disappointing news or test results.
"I performed a radiation treatment on a woman with breast cancer. We noticed that as she continued with her treatment over some time, she was not showing signs of improvement. She asked me, 'How does everything look?' I didn't want to scare her with my response. So, I told her, 'Things look stable, but you may want to talk more with the oncologist to get the details. Right now we think it's a good idea to continue radiation.' It's vital that I am sensitive with my approach and delivery, at all times."
"I am conscious of watching my tone, the words I use, and even mind my facial expressions while working in a patient-facing situation. Last week I had a patient who was very optimistic about her treatment. Her cancer had spread rapidly, and the prognosis was not as positive as anyone hoped - yet, she remained positive. When she asked me if I had seen a case like hers before, and what the outcome was, I said, 'I am unable to discuss other patient cases, but I can tell you that your positive attitude through your treatment is very inspiring to see. Please continue with this amazing outlook!' This way, I was able to encourage her without directing my words to her prognosis."