Healthcare professionals pride themselves on providing high-quality care for their patients. On the whole, we are very good at offering clinically effective and safe treatments and can benchmark our services against our peers. The one area where many providers fall short, however, is the patient experience. When a consultant breast surgeon was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, she realised how much she did not know about breast cancer, and how much more healthcare professionals can help patients and their carers cope with a cancer diagnosis, both during treatment and beyond. It is not enough to tell patients what will happen to them. We need to help them physically, mentally and emotionally through every stage of cancer treatment. You can only really learn how to improve the patient experience by asking patients themselves. Here are some of the lessons this consultant learned when she found herself on the other side of the table, and how to use them to improve the care of your own cancer patients.