Perceptual Style and Breast Cancer: A Caregiver’s Perspective

Blog: Perceptual Style and Breast Cancer: A Caregiver’s Perspective

Picture of Gary M Jordan Co-author of Unlock the Power of Your Perception and Your Talent AdvantageMarketing was never my forte. Recently, I was talking to some people about my struggles with marketing before we discovered natural marketing styles (more about that later).  Before I finished my sentence, one of the people I was speaking to said:“  I can tell you how to do that. Here’s all you have to do. First you do this… Then you do this … It’s that simple. You can do it, but you have to want to.”.

As one of my friends put it, the process of battling this type of cancer is “like pushing the pause button on your life for about a year.” I can tell you that knowing what I do about how people perceive the world has been an important component in the whole process. So much so that I thought that my experience was worth sharing.

So, how does a psychological theory of perception affect something as straightforwardly medical as cancer treatment? The truth is that it’s not so straightforward: there is a social and psychological component to any human interaction, and medical treatment is no different in that respect. Strictly looking at the health care side of what we went through, PST has helped us to:

  • Break through the ‘arms length’ emotional distance that many people in the medical field have been taught to interact with their patients.

  • Understand how to interact with particular members of my wife’s treatment team to get the information and care we needed without alienating them.

  • Know which one of us would be best at communicating with each member of her treatment team. This is driven by our different Perceptual Styles, the Perceptual Style of the team member we are communicating with, and the circumstances of the communication.

In addition, we discovered that there is more to treating cancer than the medical component. This social component involves:

  • My role as her caretaker as she recovered from each treatment

  • The changing nature of our interaction through each round of chemo, then radiation, then surgery

  • Coordinating a support network of friends and family who must be communicated with, but from whom she must also be ‘protected’ from at times

  • Finding ways to take care of myself so that I do not suffer from ‘resourcing burnout’

According to John Lennon, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” My wife and I discovered the truth of this when the doctor uttered one short sentence: “That’s breast cancer.” It turned everything upside down. We found ways to manage and, in many cases, found the positive in a very difficult process. I have always maintained that PST was not just an interesting theory, but one with profound ‘real life’ applications.

There is nothing more real life than what we’ve just been through. As I look back on all that has transpired since last fall, I know that without our understanding of PST it would have been a very different and much harder experience.

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About Dr. Gary M. Jordan, Ph.D.

Gary Jordan, Ph.D., has over 35 years of experience in clinical psychology, behavioral assessment, individual development, and coaching. He earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology – Berkeley.  He is co-creator of Perceptual Style Theory, a revolutionary psychological assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their deepest potentials for success. He’s a partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd., a consulting firm that specializes in helping people discover their true skills and talents.  For more information, visit

For additional information on Dr. Gary Jordan, please click here

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