The humanization of radiation therapy

By Paula McCoy
February 24, 2009

It was with great trepidation that I approached my radiation treatments as I really didn’t know what to expect from the treatments or from the staff. There were many important things learned along this journey that could be of help to both patients and staff and today I wish to pass them on.

The term humanity here emphasizes the quality of humanness.

For the Patient:

Ask questions: If you have questions or concerns that are left unanswered, be sure to keep asking questions until you get the answers you need to feel comfortable about your treatment.

Help: If you need help during the course of your treatment, be sure to reach out to those that have been put in place to help you. If you are not sure where to turn, seek out someone who has been through the same thing, or the doctors who are trained to assist you in the journey.

Openness: Be open to listening to other peoples stories about their experiences and be willing to share your story if you are able to. This shows you that you are not alone in your experience and that there are many other people that have traveled the same road long before you did.

Patience: It takes time to go through the treatments so be patient. Also time is a gift that the staff can give to you by taking the time to explain your treatment and answer any questions that may crop up during your course of treatment.

For the Staff:

A sense of humor: A technician’s job is very technical but it helps to put the patient at ease if they have a good sense of humor. It makes the treatments much easier to go through.

Compassion: It makes a huge difference how you go through your treatment if you are shown a little bit of compassion by the staff involved with your case.

Talking: Talking to the patient to help him/her feel at ease in a very stressful situation, is a great help through the course of the treatment.

Bedside Manner: This is something that the staff should have. It is not something that can be learned by reading about it or through schooling, it is a skill that needs to be in place already.

For Both Patient & Staff:

Relaxation Skills: The ability to put someone at ease whether it is talking to the other person, or asking them how they feel. It is also an important skill that the patient can learn to put themselves at ease and relax enough to go through the treatment without feeling uneasy.

Communication: Something important that both the patient and staff need to be able to do. It helps to be able to communicate your needs or worries and it helps the staff to be able to effectively communicate what they need for you to do.

I am at the end of my course of treatment for cancer and during my journey I have found many of the above skills listed to be of the out most importance for both the patients and staff alike. My only hope now is that they can be of help to someone else going through the same journey.

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