Strategies for Helping Patients and Families Deal with Breast Cancer

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Breast cancer is an illness that affects over 211,300 women each year in the United States. (Rousseau 95) Early detection and advanced treatments are ensuring survival and long life after cancer. Although doctors can supply treatment and drugs to patients, sometimes it is the job of the medical assistant to help the patient cope with the illness, and then afterwards, cope with survivorship. (Rousseau 96) Traditionally, spouses are a source of emotional support, but they can also bring stress. It is a medical assistant's job to ensure that the patient has access to emotional support groups and if need be, they themselves can provide the emotional support without that unpreparedness and anxiety that a spouse of family member could often bring.

Because breast cancer is not a short-term illness, many patients grow a friendly and even intimate relationship with the medical assistants at her clinic. This is because most patients are seen around the same time of day, and even on the same day of the week each visit and it is likely that during each visit they will be taken care of by the same person. This is especially likely in smaller clinics. (Wahl 112)

Part of the medical assistant's job is to deal with medical histories and take patients vitals at the time of arrival, whether the visit is a routine check up, or for something more serious. Because of this patients and medical assistants have a unique relationship. They are professionals and do not candy-coat diagnosis, or beat around the bush when relaying specific illness related information. This forwardness and upfrontness builds respect with parent and medical assistant, and it is because of this special bond, that patients befriend and often confide in medical assistants. (Rousseau 100)

In addition to providing care, and serviced available for mental support, the medical assistant can provide an almost "comic relief" for the patient. Humor is a component of the human experience. It enables some...
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