As I walked into clinic last week, I waved hello to the physician who was busy preparing for his day full of patients. He stopped me and said, "What's wrong?" I smiled and replied nothing. He's no fool, though, and told me to have a seat. So I did. He repeated his question. "What's wrong?" So I told him. "How do you deal with the sadness? Where is the happy?"
His advice: This is a clinic that specializes in oncology. Hearing the word "cancer" makes ANYONE cringe, let alone the person who has to claim ownership of it. If you dwell on the word, it will overcome you. Both as a patient and has a health care provider. Therefore, we don't focus on that part. We focus on the treatment. We work diligently at making sure that the treatment we give is the absolute best treatment for each patient, and in the meantime, making sure we exhaust all options as far as managing their symptoms. Sometimes the outcome isn't what we want. But if you look back and know you gave it your all and made their lives the absolute best you can, then you have to see it as a positive.
I struggle with this, but I love the advice. I also asked him, "As a doctor, do you get sad?" His answer was immediately "YES." Sounds weird to say, but I liked hearing this. It's pretty common for me to see a physician and not recognize that they are more than just doctors. They are fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, the list goes on. They wouldn't do what they did if they didn't have the heart for it.
Here is an example of perspective. I posted on my facebook page about fundraising for the American Heart Walk, and asked if anyone would like me to send them my fundraising letter that I am using this year that tells my sisters story. My sister responded to that saying that she wanted a copy, because she wanted to know if the ending of her story was tragic or happy.
Now I could say tragic. After all, her life was turned inside out and upside down after September 20. She no longer teaches or drives a car. Her short term memory is not up to par. She struggles now with depression and a lack of motivation. That's tragic, no? Taking a life that seems so ideal, and stripping it all away over some unknown, unexplained medical crisis.
Or you could say her "ending" is amazing. Inspiring. Miraculous. Because, well, it is! My sister survived odds that were VERY against her. She not only survived, but she survived with deficits that don't hinder her all that much. Sure, she can't work. Right now. Will she work again someday? I believe with my whole heart that she will. She can't drive. But she will. I know this. She can't remember. Heck, neither can I. Post-it notes are my BFF.
So let me throw out my plug: The American Heart Walk is in about a month and a half. My sister would NOT have a beautiful ending had she not received the prompt and CORRECT treatment of people who weren't even medical professionals. These were teachers who saved her life. Had they not initiated CPR as quickly as they did, we would NOT have her today. Please, please, please help me raise money. I opted out of receiving any prizes for raising money, and chose to have whatever prize I may earn instead go towards the heart walk. I have ZERO incentive to raise money, other than the fact that I want others to get the same chances my sister did. Every penny counts. And if you do donate a penny, you can know that you are helping those who currently have heart disease, or those, like my sister, who had no heart disease, but still fell victim to it.
(Stay tuned: I'm also becoming an advocate for Ovarian Cancer, but I won't bug anyone about that for a few more months)