Monday, March 3, 2014

Participating in the post cancer life without criticism

Yes we must participate in our lives post cancer. We need to do the right things in order to stay healthy and help reduce the chance of recurrence. The best things we can do are the things that all adults should do - they simply become more important:
  • eat right
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • exercise
  • reduce/avoid alcohol consumption
But as an additional stressor, we tie in the emotional impact of our cancer diagnosis.

Dr Bechold, here, writes about life post cancer as not a passive sport. I agree with her points but disagree with her tone. First of all, clearly although she has been a doctor for 30 years, she clearly has never been diagnosed with cancer herself. Back to if you haven't walked the walk, you can't talk the talk.

Second of all, she seems to blame the patients for their non compliance with recommendations for exercise, healthy lifestyle, and recurrence risk reduction.


"You can’t see that breast cancer survivor every 3 to 6 months, watch her weight balloon up, and not ask her what is causing this to happen. We must take time to talk to people and ask about their lives and how they are living each day with an eye on remaining cancer free. I had one patient who was clearly having some anxiety issues. As we talked, I found out that she was self-medicating every evening with a bottle of wine. While she graded papers! After I picked my chin up off the floor, I advised her that this was not an acceptable coping mechanism."

Hmm... so back to the patient whose weight was ballooning up. Did she ask about weight gain caused by Tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors or chemotherapy or just plain emotional stress? Maybe what we used to eat and maintain a healthy weight, now makes us gain weight? I know I have tried to eat healthy and my weight has definitely increased. I go to the gym regularly but my medications cause weight gain and my other ailments have reduced my ability to move around. I know many other cancer patients who deal with similar issues.

And to the patient who self medicates with a bottle of wine - clearly a destructive behavior - but why was she so astonished? If the patient had anxiety issues, why hadn't other interventions been taken previously such as therapy?

Finally, I am somewhat appalled by this closing paragraph:

"No more excuses. No more “I don’t have time,” or “It’s too cold out,” or “I know I should, but…” It has to be done. Just like getting up every morning and going to your job—no-shows are fired! If you don’t buy gas for your car, it will not run. If you do not buy food, you will be hungry. There are just things you have to do. Compliance is required for a pill or a lifestyle and failure to comply will compromise the outcome. No matter how many tests we order."

From the point of view of a relatively healthy, active doctor, who looks fairly thin in her picture, without a cancer diagnosis under her belt, I am sure she thinks its easy. But she needs to walk a mile in hour shoes before she can criticize us. I am just glad she is not my doctor.

1 comment:

tccomments2013 said...

dear Caroline,

I'm am so glad you posted the quotes from the doctor who clearly doesn't "get it", and worse fails to avoid being judgmental. I'm appalled at her
blame-the-patient attitude and her lack of compassion. if anyone ever encounters a doctor like her, they'd best RUN, not walk, and find a new doctor.

much love and light to you,

Karen xoxo