“When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand.”
I have learned so much from this patient.
I have learned that, in some people, cancer can be a chronic disease. This particular woman first developed cancer symptoms 50 years ago and she still carries some of the same malignant cells to this day.
I have learned that small acts of kindness readily distinguish a decent person from an exceptional one; a lesson re-learned each year at Valentine’s Day when she drops off a bag of chocolate kisses wrapped in small bits of cloth.
I have learned that hearing a patient tell the story of her journey with cancer enhances my understanding of how others might face similar challenges.
I have learned that facial scars can affect how people might view a patient but they don’t have to affect how the patient views herself.
I have learned that a person can remain in control of her health care and her life despite two dozen operations, multiple courses of radiation, a myriad of medical conditions, and a steady stream of hospital visits.
I have learned that a life filled with community volunteering, raising children, being a friend, and staying active can co-exist with chronic illness and cancer.
I have learned that there are people who, when I give them bad news, have the gift of always making me feel better.
And today, as she smiled and told me that she is making plans to be admitted to an in-patient hospice unit, I learned that the terms “patient” and “friend” are sometimes inseparable.
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(She) is my aunt. She IS an amazing woman, and this word is almost inadequate to describe her. Despite the occupation of her body by illness and cancer, she has continued to own her life, to move forward, to continue to LIVE. She is able somehow to see-and feel-the positive which most of us, given her lot, would have lost sight of long ago. She has been able to take in the best of living and also to give with the same fullness of heart. I am, and will remain, in constant awe of her spirit. I will always feel grateful and lucky that her life and mine have been connected for almost fifty years. I hope, and somehow know, that she will continue to find joy in her continuing journey.
I am not sure how I found this blog but I did and I have read most of it. Although I have lymphoma I had a parotidectomy in Sept of 97. I had a wonderful doctor that has changed my life in so many ways. When I read you post *Learning* Its very true after being a long time patient there is friendship as well. Its amazing to me how I count on his opinion just as much as I do the rest of my doctors. But his friendship equally as much as well.
You wrote so beautifully about a patients scars. I also think how my doctor handle my care was perfect. Yes I have scars but I walked outta of his office...with a confidence to handle whatever came my way. I always felt that he helped me every step of the way to get here.
I agree others might view me differently be it the scars or the cancer. But your so right I don't view myself any differently. Didn't then and don't know.
I just wanted to say thanks for writing on what you see as a Person and as a Doctor.
Heres to life and living it to the fullest.