Bottom Line/HEALTH:You’re a great communicator. It is your job to communicate as a hospice nurse, as a palliative care nurse. What about all those people out there who aren’t such great communicators? What kind of advice can you give to them for how to do it?
Hollye Jacobs, R.N.:I think that it’s important to, as much as you can, separate this experience into the objective, more factual and the emotional. One of the things that I did immediately after I left my biopsy was I went to lunch with my girlfriend. We sat at a table, and we wrote down what I was facing. We also made a list of people whom I needed to tell. Making lists is a great thing to do. You could literally sit down with a legal pad of paper, divide the paper in half—on one side are facts…and the other side, emotions. When you’re telling someone, you could have that tool with you to be able to say, “OK, here are the facts, and here’s what I’m feeling.” The other thing that’s really important is to do what feels right to you. What I mean by that is removing this word “should.” I should call so-and-so. When I was making my list of people to tell, it was a long list, which is a really great thing to have so many people in my life I needed to tell, but I did not feel as though I had the capacity to call each and every person by phone or to even have in-person conversations. The thing that I chose to do is was to send an e-mail to everyone. The point of that was that first of all, everyone would get the message at the exact same time in their in-box. Secondly, everyone could hear about my diagnosis in my own words, from me, combining my column of facts and my column of emotions. There wasn’t that telephone game where the story gets diluted and changed. Everyone heard about my diagnosis and about my next steps directly from me. If you feel as though you would like to meet people in person or to do phone calls, that’s perfectly fine. The most important thing to know is that it’s up to you, and that you are driving from this point forward.
Bottom Line And not to feel obliged to anyone, because, again, it’s your body and your diagnosis.
Jacobs:Exactly, it’s your body, your choice, and each and every step is up to you.

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