Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Finding another bicycle

At The Cancer Blog, Michelle Dellino is posting about her ovarian cancer:
"Does anyone have any suggestions on how they may have dealt with the mental and emotional strain of a recurrence while trying to maintain a “normal” daily life?"
My patients have similar questions, so I'm captivated by her post. Here's one comment:
I was pronounced terminal in Feb96.
FIrst I went into shock. Numbness.
Luckily as my disease progressed, pain movitated me to search for better Tx than I was being offered and I found some. Not cures but ways to exend things.
So how do I 'deal with it'.
- Look at the big picture.
[ A favorite ..
'The man asked God how much time he had left?
God answered " Time enough to make a difference." ]
- Help others.
I go to support groups and contribute to
my cancer internet help list..
- Daily prayer / mediation.
I go to Mass daily. I find it really helps to
pray with others.
- I work my disease and medical staff.
I spend hours a day getting smart on my disease.
While I don't expect to be as smart as my doctors,
I work hard to be smart enough to ask
good questions. And make sure the many who
provide medcial support all work on the same page,
in a a logical manner.
I try to make them all see the big picture. I make it
hard for them to only see / work my cancer.
... and more...
And how do their doctors cope? Here's the Cheerful Oncologist:
You don't hear much about this in the media and therefore, dear reader, perhaps you have concluded that the mood of doctors is calm and secure, but let me reassure any doubters out there:
The practice of medicine still is intellectually and emotionally grueling...
He lists his "nightmares" - the disappointments, the treatment failures. Then he adds:
Since I have not named this blog The Frightened Oncologist, you may ask "How do you reconcile these distressful aspects of practicing medicine with your chirpy title?"
Ever heard of the term fortitude? "Strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage."
That, my readers, is the secret - if you don't have fortitude, you won't last long in this profession. Fortitude is the power that allows an oncologist to extract himself from the wreckage of discouragement, find another bicycle, and begin again to pedal uphill toward the place where his responsiblity and his patients await.
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