Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Gratitude & Kindness

In the Western Medical/Oncological world, I have found some anti-Gerson sentiment. In the Gerson world, I found some anti-Western Medical/Oncological sentiment. And as I said in a recent posting, when I first went to the hospital to begin chemotherapy and radiation, I truly was like a "deer in the headlights" swinging a baseball bat. Now that some time has passed, I have let go of all the judgment I developed about chemo & radio therapies and instead, I have opened my heart to the staff. And what I have found is a group of nurses and technicians that have enormous hearts and the desire to provide each patient as much ease, comfort and support as they can.

And as I open up more & more to the different staff, they do the same with me. Now we all know that this is basic human relationship development, s0 it ain't rocket science (as my friend, Ann, the rocket scientist often says). So, what I am pointing to is the context for the relationship. The nurses & technicians know that their patients are dealing with possibly the most difficult thing they have ever had to confront in life. And the staff must find a proper balance and pace as they relate to their patients, who themselves are developing what ever level of acceptance they can with their diagnosis.

One of the chemotherpy nurses said that for the patients, their department is the hardest to walk into and the hardest to walk out of. Because, when we walk in we are taking our first steps into an often very scary world and the staff do their best to make it easy for us. Yet at the end of the treatment, the patients do their final treatment and leave a group of nurses and fellow patients with whom they have developed strong relationships. It's quite moving and I can already feel the bond that I am developing with the staff. My gratitude for their kindness and support is growing - to tell you the truth, quite rapidly. And, I have always been this way. I just love getting to know people.


  1. I will always honor one special chemo nurse who always "tucked me in" with a warm blanket and made sure I had a comfortable pillow, juice, etc. We talked about so many other things than cancer treatment, like hikes in the Adirondacks, hikes in NYC neighborhoods, our families, music, etc. I remember my b'day was close to the end of the treatments and I made a cake which the staff raved over. As the treatments were winding down, and I was contemplating returning to part time employment, she encouraged me to not rush back to "normal", but to take this time in my life for my own complete nourishment and healing; "see it as a gift to yourself", she said; "take time for deep rest, enjoying nature, and contemplation".
    Post treatment, when I went back to say hi, she praised my always changing hair styles, as they went from butch crew cut, to pixie short, to sparse and stragley, to more or less new normal. (still curly but not as big as used to be).
    Yes, there are some real gems that you encouter on this weird journey. It is one of the gifts.

  2. Bert, I am glad to hear you are opening up to the staff who are providing you these life-saving interventions. Our chances of healing successfully are greater if we trust our medical providers and see them as being on our "team". I know it can be hard to trust western medicine, but sometimes they are our best option, and I do believe that the staff providing our care really do want to cure us and return us to our old selves, or as close to our old selves as they can get us.

    I don't know if we are ever the same after cancer, even if we get all of our physical function back. Even if, as in my case, reconstruction works and all areas involved heal completely.

    In either of our cases, I think that we are changed forever in some what - our view of the world, our level of commitment to our human relationships, our personal awareness of our own mortality.

    And I think that most medical care providers, whether western or alternative or otherwise, are aware of the changes we are going through, the challenges we face during treatment, and our need for their commitment to us. And acknowledging their humanity as they care for us is one way to make them even more committed to us and our care.

    Enough babbling from me. I wish you a good night and excellent treatment.

    Maria Brown