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Understanding Radiation Therapy and the Power of Empathy in Patient Care


Sophia Edwards-Bennett, MD PH.D. (AKA Dr. EB)

Radiation Oncologist, Cancer Ambassador, Author, Speaker, Consultant, Podcaster, YouTuber


Radiation therapy is a crucial treatment that utilizes high-energy X-rays to target and destroy cancer cells. It is often recommended as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for certain cancer patients. However, radiation therapy is a treatment that remains a mystery to many.


In the episode, "Understanding Radiation Therapy and the Power of Empathy in Patient Care," I had the honor of interviewing the incredible Dr. EB, a board-certified radiation oncologist, cancer ambassador, and best-selling author. We delved into the world of radiation therapy, the importance of addressing the emotional and psychological needs of cancer patients, and the power of faith and hope in the face of a cancer diagnosis.


Radiation Therapy Explained


During radiation therapy, patients undergo a series of treatments where high-energy X-rays are directed at the specific area of the body affected by cancer. The purpose is to ablate or kill the cancer cells, ultimately reducing tumor size or preventing its recurrence. It is important to note that patients typically do not experience pain during radiation therapy. Although there may be side effects such as skin reactions, patients do not physically feel the radiation itself. This reassurance is significant for patients who may have concerns about undergoing radiation therapy.


According to Dr. EB, the decision to recommend radiation therapy depends on various factors, including the type and stage of cancer, as well as the patient's overall health and specific circumstances. For example, patients who have undergone a lumpectomy for breast cancer may be advised to undergo radiation therapy to reduce the risk of tumor recurrence. On the other hand, patients who have undergone a mastectomy may or may not require radiation therapy, depending on factors such as cancer stage and the presence of comorbidities.


Patients must understand that radiation therapy is just one component of their overall cancer treatment plan. It can used in conjunction with other treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy. The goal of radiation therapy is to target and destroy cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy surrounding tissues.


Balancing Patient Care and the Emotional and Psychological Needs of Patients


Dr. EB recognizes the importance of addressing the emotional and psychological needs of cancer patients alongside their clinical treatment. She believes in providing holistic care, acknowledging that patients are not defined solely by their cancer but are whole individuals.

To address the emotional and psychological needs of her patients, Dr. EB developed the Big-C Re-Attitudes. This approach focuses on the restoration of hope, reclamation of identity, reaffirmation of self-worth, reappraisal of life, requited admiration, rehabilitation of the mind, and re-ignition of purpose. By incorporating these elements into her discussions with patients, she aims to support their overall well-being.



"Now, that's my passion. Because I strongly believe that the patient is not just the cancer I'm treating. The patient is a whole patient." - Dr. EB




Dr. EB is a board-certified radiation oncologist, cancer ambassador, author, speaker



Dr. EB understands that cancer patients face not only physical challenges but also psychological ones. She acknowledges the psychological impact that can accompany a cancer diagnosis. Even after successful treatment, patients may still experience fear and worry about recurrence. Therefore, it is crucial to address their emotional well-being throughout the treatment process and beyond.


In her practice, Dr. EB takes the time to establish a personal connection with her patients. She inquires about their interests, motivations, and sources of hope. By understanding their strengths and motivations, she can provide personalized support and remind them of their why.


Dr. EB also believes in the power of faith and spirituality in coping with a cancer diagnosis. She engages in conversations about faith with her patients, reminding them of their initial beliefs and encouraging them to hold onto their faith during difficult times. She even offers to pray with her patients, regardless of their religious beliefs, as she recognizes the profound impact that facing mortality can have on one's perspective.


By addressing the emotional and psychological needs of her patients, Dr. EB aims to strengthen their inner resilience. She believes that acknowledging and supporting the psychological aspects of cancer treatment is just as important as addressing the physical aspects. Through her compassionate approach, Dr. EB strives to empower her patients and provide them with a sense of hope and purpose.


Overall, Dr. EB's emphasis on addressing the emotional and psychological needs of cancer patients highlights the importance of holistic care. By recognizing the psychological impact of a cancer diagnosis and providing support alongside clinical treatment, healthcare providers can help patients navigate their cancer journey with greater resilience and well-being.


Maintain Hope and Faith


Dr. EB emphasizes the significance of faith and hope in facing a cancer diagnosis. She believes that patients should hold onto their beliefs and find strength in them. She acknowledges that facing a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming and filled with uncertainty. However, she encourages patients to remember their faith and the reasons why they want to live.


In her book, "The Path to Soul Immunity: $oul Currency for Life and The Big C," Dr. EB emphasizes the importance of adopting faith and hope rather than despair in a cancer diagnosis. She believes that faith and hope can provide a sense of purpose and fortitude during the challenging journey of cancer treatment. Dr. EB encourages healthcare providers to introduce faith and hope to their patients, as it can provide them with another rope of hope and uplift their spirits.


In conclusion, Dr. EB believes that faith and hope are powerful tools in navigating a cancer diagnosis. She encourages patients to hold onto their beliefs and find strength in them as they face the physical and emotional challenges of cancer treatment. By acknowledging the psychological impact that can accompany a cancer diagnosis, Dr. EB aims to address the holistic needs of her patients and provide them with the support they need to thrive On the Other Side of Cancer.


Tune in to the full episode to hear Dr. EB's personal journey into oncology, which was inspired by the loss of her mother at a young age and the compassionate care they received from their mother's physician.


Click on the episode in the SmartPlayer below. You can also listen on your favorite podcast app.


Don't forget to share this blog and the podcast episode with anyone who may benefit from them.












Resources


Educational Video Series - What You Should Know, https://youtu.be/Ips6nwJULd0?si=mQQtUeKUIOSjY_ru



Other Episodes You'll Enjoy


A Seasoned Medical Oncologist Explains Why Cancer Still Sucks with David J. Stewart, MD, FRCPC, https://smartlink.ausha.co/navigatingcancertogether/a-seasoned-medical-oncologist-explains-why-cancer-still-sucks-with-david-j-stewart-md-frcpc


Healthcare Is a Matter of Education with Robert Yoho,



 


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