I recently interviewed Dr. Deanna Attai, Board Certified Surgeon. Her practice is exclusively devoted to patients with benign and malignant breast conditions. Dr. Attai’s answers provided valuable insight regarding disease, emotions, relationships, and education.
The interview is posted in two separate posts.
Dr. Attai, when breast cancer is diagnosed, patient and family members experience a new level of stress on many levels. What one thing (or several) do you think is most important for moving forward.
I think one of the most important things is that the family try (as best possible) to come together for the patient. Listen to her, just support her, and if you’re not sure what to do, ask her what she wants or needs. Education is important – I encourage patients to bring a family member to their appointments so everyone has the same information. Then everyone needs to breathe and relax and take some time to let the diagnosis and information sink in, before jumping into a plan of action. Going forward, continue to remember, “the patient is the one with the disease”. While the whole family is affected, keeping the patient’s wishes and best interests front and center will help. However that’s often easier said than done – normal roles and routines are terribly disrupted, and asking for help – whether help with normal chores and errands or help in terms of therapy and counseling – is important – for the patient and the family.
How do you help your patients deal with fear and anxiety?
To me education plays a huge role. Many women hear the word “cancer” and automatically think “death” but that’s often not the case. Of course there are a lot of unknowns with any cancer, but I find that providing direct accurate information helps a lot. Also encouraging patients to ask questions and to discuss their fears, and providing outlets (referral to a therapist, info on supportive measures, network of complementary therapists, etc).
Dr. Deanna J. Attai is a board-certified surgeon practicing in Southern California. Since 2004, Dr. Attai has focused her career exclusively on the care of patients with benign and malignant breast conditions. Areas of expertise and interest include breast ultrasound, cryoablation, accelerated partial breast irradiation, and the role of diet and lifestyle factors in disease causation and prevention.
Deanna J. Attai, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Part One of this interview is focused on lifestyle, emotions, and cancer.