br and wasn t like
and wasn’t like, ‘alright, cancer, bye’. That wouldn’t be very
“Well, if I don’t do anything, will I die? Like [the surgeon] didn’t
really explain what my options were, it Trizma maleate was just like.let’s move
Emotional Patients needed emotional support from the surgeon. “[The surgeon] was very caring and very professional, you
support Actions that were comforting to patients, included know? So that made me feel less worried.” (P-6)
surgeons taking their time, listening, and providing general
support. A lack of support was anxiety inducing for
patients. While most patients wanted emotional support, a
few did not.
“The [surgeon] did a great job being thorough and sensitive and
“I want them to say, ‘You’ll be just fine,’ because I want that
“I was not impressed with [the surgeon’s] bedside manner. It
lacked the compassion that I think you need to have with people
that are dealing with such a tremendous diagnosis.” (P-20)
“They wanted to spend a lot of time explaining, discussing, and
Treatment as an Patients wanted to be seen as a unique person by the “Make a relationship [with the surgeon] so that when they’re
individual surgeon. They preferred a personalized approach taking cutting your throat. you’re that individual and not, ‘the 8th
into account specifics of their case. Not meeting this need patient we’ve done today.’” (P-9, giving advice to future
was discounting. patients)
“Statistically is a question that might not be concerning to you,
but it’s still concerning to me, the patient.” (P-12, giving advice
to the surgeon)
“Make sure whatever generalization you’re doing, it’s specific for
what you’re seeing in this individual.” (P-16, giving advice to
“I didn’t really feel like I was the only patient. You know, you
want to feel like they’re gonna take care of you, and I didn’t really
P-# ¼ participant number.
low likelihood of metastasis, the diagnosis elicited significant anxiety and fear from the “C-word.” Many participants feared poor outcomes, such as metastasis or death, especially if they had a long wait to see the surgeon or had a prior negative cancer-related experience. When surgeons directly addressed patients’ fears and provided emotional support, patients felt reassured. However, when a surgeon did not respond to
emotional cues, participants felt, “shell-shocked” (P-21). Participant 18 described, “I feel horrible, because I’m worried about it. It’s all I think about!”
In addition to needing support related to their cancer diagnosis, participants desired reassurance from the surgeon about surgery and the postoperative period. Participants wanted the surgeon to address their anxiety about being
“sliced and diced” (P-2), experiencing pain, having a noticeable scar, bleeding, and voice changes. However, not all patients experienced anxiety related to surgery and minimized the possibility of complications because they saw surgery as a necessary step to removing the cancer. Some participants had anxiety about the postoperative logistics of surgery, because their surgeon planned to send them home the same day. On the other hand, others were reassured that the procedure was performed on an outpatient basis.
The desire for emotional support from the surgeon was an overarching need of the patients with thyroid cancer but intersected at times with their similar need for emotional support from external sources, such as family, other pro-fessionals, or survivors. One participant wanted their surgeon to assess how “solid” their external support system was (P-19). When discussing the impact of knowing or talking to a survi-vor, participants described feeling either reassured or anxious regardless if they were introduced to the survivor by the sur-geon. For example, one participant was reassured, “because [the survivor] is still there” (P-29), while another expressed concerns that “everyone else’s little stories” (P-2) might increase their anxiety.