It is similar in that you need to prepare to do something you have not done before. However, the different stops there. When making a critical healthcare decision, you may not have time or capacity to prepare yourself for what’s needed to help make this decision.

If you were to receive a diagnosis that could alter your life, are you prepared to answer these questions?

  • What quality of life do I want?
  • How much risk am I willing to take in terms of treatment?
  • Can I do this on my own?
  • How can I make an intentional health care decision and not live in regret if things do not work out as planned?

It is best to prepare in advance. The Powerful Healthcare Decisions courses are designed to help you do this.

This story from 2003 is one the driving factors that lead to Powerful Healthcare Decisions.

When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003, I wanted to avoid surgery and take a more natural approach.  When I met with the surgeon in Toronto, he opened my mind for deeper consideration of my choices,  by asking “Let’s say it’s three years hence and your cancer has advanced to the point where I cannot help you. How would you feel?” I said “I would be on the wrong side of the bell curve of an intentional decision.” Meaning, I would still feel content with my choice. Because I had made a conscious decision that I was most comfortable with, that aligned with my personal values, and yet the outcome was not as positive as I hoped in the end. And he said, “Well, if that’s the case then a reasonable decision is to continue with a natural approach.” 

An alchemist is someone who can transform ordinary objects/substances into riches, in seemingly magical ways. Like changing a base metal, such as steel or copper, into gold through an alchemical process. The successful alchemists of myth were able to make something good happen, even when given challenging materials. They used their  insight, knowledge, courage, and willingness to experiment with the unknown. 

Like an alchemist, the factors that I placed in my personal cauldron in 2003 when making a treatment decision for prostate cancer, started with the evidenced based research. Then I added the advice from my spiritual advisor Tulku Thondup to my cauldron. He shared his regard of the surgery option as a blessing. Then I took into consideration the input from one of my collaborative practitioners that given my history of worrying, living in a state of “not knowing” by taking the natural approach was not going to be good for me. I added this to my cauldron as well. After adding all of these ingredients to my “cauldron of choice”, I created the choice that felt best to me personally. The choice I was most comfortable with, regardless of outcome. I felt informed, confident, and clear in my choice. 

I did elect to have surgery with my eyes wide open with awareness of the potential negative side effects. The side effects have been significant. That said, I have not been living in regret, as my decision was informed and intentional. I exercised power over my healthcare decision.

Powerful Healthcare Decisions is comprised of online courses and health guidance coaching. The “power” comes from agency – the concrete capacity for meaningful action that includes not only freedom and confidence, but resources for action.

I would like to get posts from others about how you have experienced agency in your interactions with healthcare systems.

Do any of these pain points register with you? What other would you suggest?
• How do I develop the skills for helping me be in the driver’s seat for taking a more powerful role in conversations with healthcare practitioners?
• How do I get the right information about my illness and treatment options?
• How do I discern among sources of information that I can trust?
• What do I do when I do not understand what a healthcare practitioner is saying?
• What do I do when a healthcare practitioner talks down to me or minimizes or downplays my symptoms?

Please send me your draft posts at I will review them and make suggested edits. These can be anonymous.



Confidence building choices:

Preparing my questions ahead of time for appointments.

Reminding myself that my health is a priority and that it is ok to ask questions if I don’t understand something. It is my right to ask questions.

Talking to close friends or family about my worries/fears before and after appointments.

Taking time out in nature to get myself calm and grounded, and getting a good sleep, before I make important decisions.

Hesitations (limiting thoughts) that can reduce confidence and impact choices.

Worried I am being a bother, knowing how busy they are.

Thinking there are more sick people than me out there needing to be seen.

Feel like the system is broken anyway, and I am just wasting my time. It’s not worth the effort.

Others might see me as pushy and aggressive.

Healthcare practitioners haven’t believed me in the past and won’t likely believe me again this time.

Patient navigators do just that – they help people navigate the system by acting as liaisons to coordinate patient care and connecting people to appropriate health and community services.

Take a look at Cancer Care Navigation and navigation for Indigenous patients in Nova Scotia

Powerful Healthcare Decisions is about providing patients with the skills and resources to effectively collaborate with healthcare practitioners so they can advocate for what they want.

Healthcare practitioners can see this as “boot camp for patients” – patients who come for a visit better prepared and knowing what they want.

What are some reasons for taking the Skills Building course?

In the world of 15-minute appointments and a system with limited resources, where it is especially important to be able to effectively communicate with healthcare practitioners….

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