Sunday, August 14, 2011

Missing the big picture


A cancer friend was telling me the other day about a friend of her's who was just diagnosed with breast cancer and was refusing chemo - because she didn't want to lose her hair. I think she is missing the big picture. She can make a trade here - lose your hair and keep your life. Multiple doctors have recommended chemo to her and she still says no.

I also think she is in that stage called 'denial'. She needs to move on to the anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance stages. Its not an easy transition and it certainly doesn't happen over night. My friend was going to talk to her some more and find out about her cancer stage and other factors in her diagnosis.

I have thought about this for a few days and think there is some fault of the doctors here (or maybe she just isn't hearing what they say). Part of a doctor's job is to communicate to the patient what are the risks and benefits of a course of treatment.

If a doctor is recommending a potentially life saving treatment and the patient is refusing it, part of the discussion should be what happens if you don't do it.

My oncologist sat down with me and using a white board started going through the risk reduction benefits of each stage of my treatment - chemo, radiation, and Tamoxifen/Femara. Maybe I pushed him more to explain it to me but he did and I could see the benefit. I am sure I blogged about this back them but that would mean looking something up and I'm too tired to do that this morning.

Looking back I think that I was still in the denial/anger/bargaining stages and trying to make decisions. Actually I was being cleverly led down the path of least resistance to go through all treatments. They made it easy for me to say yes and hard to say no. Maybe I had the benefit of having been through cancer before (a different cancer with a different course of treatment) that I was quicker to pick up the big picture.

Its not about wigs, hair loss, scars, lymphedema, insomnia, nausea, constipation, neuropathy, and all those other lovely side effects/results of cancer treatment. Its about being around to live and enjoy life.

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