Harold Pollack interviews Amy Berman for a recent post in the Washington Post Wonkblog. Ms. Berman speaks openly about her experiences living with Stage IV breast cancer and her decision to forgo aggressive treatments in favor of palliative care. The interview touches on issues ranging from personal to policy, emphasizes patient-doctor communication, and explores the recommendations made in the recent Institute of Medicine report, “Delivering high-quality cancer care: charting a new course for a system in crisis.”
“Most people go to their clinician, and they wait to be told what to do. They don’t ask about what the potential benefits are, what the different options are, what it’s going to make them feel like now, what it will make them feel like later.
Not only just their diagnosis, their prognosis: What’s the likely course of the disease, and will anything that you’re doing change that? Nobody knows for sure. But I think it’s fair to say that these clinicians have a tremendous amount of experience and understanding what the likelihood is. There certainly is a lot of evidence to tell people what likely will happen. We consumers are entitled to that very basic information. We are part of the decision-making because we’re the ones who live with the consequences.”