Is Your Doctor Proactive or Reactive?


While meeting with your doctor, or after meeting with them, you should keep the definitions of proactive and reactive in mind.

The adjective proactive can describe a person who gets things done. If you are proactive, you make things happen, instead of waiting for them to happen to you. If you are proactive, you are ready before something happens. The opposite is being reactive, or waiting for things to unfold before responding. To be reactive is to be ready to react or respond to something else — as opposed to ready to act on one's own. A person who is reactive does things only in response to others.

Think about winter cold season. A proactive person washes his hands and takes vitamins; a reactive person gets sick and takes cold medicine.

While meeting with your doctor, or after meeting with them, you should keep the definitions of proactive and reactive in mind. For example, does your doctor use the word “when?” It would sound something like this: “We will do this treatment, then when it comes back we will try this one.” What I hear from patients and their families far too often is that the doctor tells them that the first treatment will be the standard of care and when it comes back they will do something different. That indicates to me that the doctor is already resigning themselves to the fact that the cancer will return and they aren’t doing enough to give you the best chance of it not coming back.

You might be saying to yourself that you have been told that there is a 100% chance of the tumor or cancer returning, but I am here to tell you that everyone is different and that it is not always the case. You can’t believe that.

Another way to tell if your doctor is proactive or reactive is whether or not your doctor gives you choices of different treatment options. Different treatment methods offer different options for how aggressive you want to be. Do you want to start with the standard of care, sometimes called “The Gold Standard”? Or do you want to be very aggressive and hit it with everything that medicine has to offer and give yourself the best chance of it not coming back? The choice of how aggressive you want to be is ultimately yours to make. Remember it's your life!

My doctors were very proactive and gave me all the options on how aggressive I wanted to be so that I could make my own informed and educated decision. My options started with surgery. My doctors gave me three options: the first was to do nothing and enjoy a good quality of life for the time I had left. The second was to have surgery, radiation and Temodar, then continue with the standard of care. The third was to have surgery, which included a treatment during the tumor resection, radiation and Temodar, then a cocktail approach using Carboplatin administered intra-arterially in conjunction with Cytoxin and Etoposide given through a port in my chest.

Stay tuned for the choice I ultimately made.

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