June 2, 2010

what a difference a doctor makes

i read an interesting post the other day that really struck a chord with me, and as we approach national cancer survivors day (sunday, june 6th), i think it's appropriate to write a post about the people who dedicate their lives to making sure that there continues to be such a day...doctors.

this was the quote...

You may not realize this (or you may have just forgotten), but we hang on every word you say. We take everything literally. We watch the expression on your face and the way your eyes move when you talk to us. You can make or break our spirit with a word or a look. We know you're very busy and that you are overworked, exhausted and probably w-a-y under-compensated, but I'm fighting for my life here. Please choose your words carefully, let the compassion that led you into medicine show in your eyes, and give me a hug or squeeze my hand now and then.

And whatever you do, don't ever be guilty of saying that you don't want to give a patient "false hope." There's no such thing. A miracle could be just around the corner. It's happened before, and it will happen again and again and again.

And it just might be tomorrow.

there's so much truth in this. we really do hang on every single word that our doctors say to us. i can remember every major discussion i've had with my doctors. i remember when i first found out i had a large mass in my chest, the doctor covering for my usual doctor told me 'if this is cancer, you can beat it'. i remember every time my primary care doctor has expressed her optimistic outlook on my situation. i remember every time that my oncologist has said something hopeful. and, i remember meeting my radiation oncologist and every word of that conversation that made me feel re-energized for the last step in my treatment.

it makes me so sad every time i hear or read about someone who has encountered a doctor on their cancer journey that has belittled them, or made them feel scared or anxious. we all know doctors are overworked, and that in the scheme of cancer, hodgkins is not close to the worst of what they see. but, to us, hodgkins is the worst we have ever faced, and is the scariest thing we can comprehend...and, i wish every doctor would be mindful of how much of a difference they make with every communication, whether it be verbal or not.

so, i want to dedicate this post to the doctors who have cared for me over the past year. thank you for giving me strength and optimism to carry through my treatment, and for allowing me to laugh at the situation when i had no other way to cope with how serious it actually was. please don't ever underestimate how much your choice to have a positive attitude, or to enter the room with a smile made all the difference in my journey. i, of course, give you credit for making incredibly difficult decisions regarding my medical treatment...but, i give you much, much more credit for the way in which you have treated me as an individual. you have given me an incredible amount of respect, honesty, and humor. you have never failed to recognize that i handle things in a unique fashion. you have always allowed me to be an active participant in my own care, and you have respected my decisions even when they haven't agreed with yours. you've had informed discussions with me, and you have never talked down to me, or implied that i don't know enough to keep up with you.

words will never be enough, but please know that i am grateful every day that i have fallen into the hands of such competent, caring and wonderful doctors. if every person who received a cancer diagnosis could have a team as wonderful as mine has been, the world would be a much better place.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! Fantastic post- well written. Good doctors and nurses deserve SO much credit.