In honour of our Doctors – they are human just like us
Our Doctors always condone so much respect. Some would say they are almost godlike but they to are only human. It takes a special kind of human to be a good Doctor. The most difficult thing of all must be making life and death decisions. They dealing with heartache, anguish and exhaustion while just trying to be a normal human being.
As a Cancer warrior myself, I have witnessed first hand how incredibly hard my Surgeon and my Oncologist work. They are most certainly special human beings. Oncology must be one of the toughest and saddest specialities. There are so many happy moments but also extremely sad one’s.
The word CANCER must singularly be one of the most dreaded and feared words that anyone could ever hear. It strikes fear into the very depths of your soul and most certainly makes you question your mortality. The impact on both the patient and their families is exponential. No matter how strong and positive you are even as a cancer survivor in good health, you always have the inherent fear of a cancer re-occurrence and so do your loved one’s.
I am also a Oncology patient navigator and have seen and experienced for myself some happy, sad and very scary moments. Decisions, questions and discussions that so often take place between the Doctor, patient and or their families are truly heartbreaking. How do you tell a patient and their family that there is nothing more that can be done. So often a patient may accept this but their family does not or vice versa.
I recently came across some podcasts from the Journal of Clinical Oncology. These podcasts really struck a cord with me. The podcasts were a collection of personal stories from Oncologists. Called Cancer Stories the Art of Oncology. These Doctors recall very specials patients that really struck a cord with them.
Talking to Children with Cancer
Sometimes less is more, how a Doctor struggles to convey a prognosis to his young teenage patient. This Doctor describes how he meets this young teenage patient in the ER who has been diagnosed with a very rare form of brain cancer and is ternminal. What struck him was just how normal this young girls was and how she just wanted to continue to be a normal American teenager despite her prognosis.
She refused to accept her prognosis and when he tried to explain her prognosis to her as health deteriorated she did not want to hear about it. She continued to live as normal a life as possible even though it was a struggle right up until the end of her life where she died peacefully surrounded by her loving family.
A tale of two mothers
One who has cancer and one who is her Oncologist. A young mother of two young children and is pregnant with her third baby, is diagnosed with terminal breast cancer and has to abort the baby. Her Oncologist who was pregnant with her own baby at the time and recalls how guilty she felt that this young mom had to terminate her own pregnancy.
She goes on to tell how incredible this young mother was refusing to accept her prognosis and how bravely she fought to try and stay alive for as long as possible for her two young children even hoping that one day she would still have another baby. A year after her patient loses her life the Doctor recalls how on a walk one beautiful spring Sunday she sees the husband of her brave patient with their two young children and how happy they are laughing and playing in the spring sunshine. How even though in such a sad situation life still goes on.
A Doctor recalls the struggles and joy of working with a very challenging patient. The story of a young sailor man who has had a troubled childhood and struggled with mental illness his entire life, he finds solace at sea. Referred to a new Oncologist because of thrombocytemia he needs to be cleared to re-join his ship. He gives his new Doctor a really tough time is extremely unpleasant and angry, demanding she clear him to return to his ship. She explains to him that as long as he promises her to take his medication and return to her for follow ups when he returns from sea she will give him his clearance.
His Doctor manages to get through to him and they develop a really good relationship he keeps his end of the bargain returns for his follow ups and seems so much better. She looks forward to seeing him. After a while he does not return for his follow ups and she gets an email from his Mom informing her that he committed suicide. His mom informs the Doctor of how highly he spoke of her and the respect he had for her and how he really enjoyed her company. She is extremely sad but finds solace in knowing that she was able to make a difference in his troubled life.
Our Doctors always put on such a brave face but these stories just prove that when they go home, behind closed doors they to are just as vulnerable and human as the rest of us. A big shout out to all our Doctors and other health care professionals as they navigate the extra burden of the Covid – 19 pandemic.