Sunday, November 20, 2011

It saved my life

Frankly I am sick of these people who are quoted in articles saying something 'saved their life'. Especially when its something that is newly developed and just made available. 3-D digital mammograms are used at Mass General where they were developed and finally approved by the FDA this year. Of course in the article, a woman is quoted as saying the 3-D mammogram saved her life. (I do not know who this woman is and think she is lucky when they caught her breast cancer when they did.) But I have a problem with the 'saving her life' bit.

The article is titled 'New 3-D mammograms could save lives'. Well, I'll put that in the 'duh' category. New medical advances are done to save lives. We know that. This is what sustains medical research - the chance to save lives, have people live longer, and suffer less.

But somewhere in there the translation to saving her specific life I feel a disconnect. Would she have died if this technology not been invented? By thinking this way, are we setting ourselves up for an unattainable desire for the ultimate medical cure/test/procedure that heals us all? Isn't this thinking 'without this I would be dead' a tad idealistic?

What I am trying to say is that medical advances are wonderful and do save lives. But:

We can't set ourselves up for hoping for the unattainable. We have to live with medical advances as they are and not for how they will be in the future or never. We have to accept that what is standard treatment is what we can expect. We can't expect things that don't exist yet. We would be setting ourselves up for disappointment.

I do not credit a single thing with saving my life. What has made me live as long as I have is a bit of common sense (eat right, look both ways before crossing the street, wearing my seat belt, etc.), exercising, getting appropriate medical are (annual physicals, dentists, eye doctors, etc), and even remembering to take my vitamins. I can't think of a single thing that 'saved my life'. My cancers were both caught through regular medical exams - throat check after repeated cases of strep and an annual mammogram. Did they save my life? I don't give them credit.

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