Episode 6: Authentic Relationships

When faced with bad news it can be difficult to speak to others, leading to interactions that are inauthentic. Euphemisms, platitudes, and missed efforts, can patronize the patient and put distance in the relationship. Mike lives with metastatic colorectal cancer, and receives palliative care from Dr. Irene Ying. When Mike found out that his cancer was incurable, he felt a sense a freedom. No longer having to focus on every up and down of his treatment, and the relief of not searching for alternatives, Mike shifted focus to quality of life. Mike appreciates family and friends who are able to ask sincere questions and be present for his experience. His health care team keeps open communication and give straight forward evidence, which makes Mike feel secure.


Irene, Dori and Giovanna elaborate on how it is important to know a patient’s preferred way of receiving information: varying from subtle to stark honesty. The doctors discuss how the uncertainty of illness can be the most difficult element of treatment; the fear of the unknown. The hosts reflect on history taking methods to make each patient feel taken care of. The doctors talk about how authentic relationships bring a closeness to the people involved. The heart of empathy is connecting with another person in a genuine understanding of what someone is going through.