The Encarta Dictionary defines the noun “counsel” as “advice sought from or given by somebody, especially somebody who is wise or knowledgeable.” Similarly, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “counsel” is an “opinion as to what ought to be done given as the result of consultation; aid or instruction for directing the judgment; advice, direction.” When physicians give counsel, they do not substitute their judgment for that of the patient or family. Instead, physicians work in partnership with patients and families to craft a mutually determined decision.
These past six months I have had four women come to me seeking counsel regarding how to treat their recently discovered breast cancer with alternative medicine. These women were hoping that they could avoid the surgery, chemo and radiation that their oncologists recommended. With all four women I recommend that they start by having the tumor surgically removed. Once the tumor is gone then we can begin assisting the body to rebuild itself. However, this advice to remove the tumor was met with resistance. Although I sometimes feel like forcing my opinion on them it I have come to realize that it is ultimately, the patient who has to make the decision that she knows, in her heart, is the right one for her.
Terry Pfau DO, HMD