In a provocative 242-word essay -- Interruptions -- that prompted my November 13th post, Lucy Stanovick fishes for information about how hopeful her oncologist feels regarding her recovery. Is her doctor trying to cure or contain her cancer? Or just to keep her comfortable?
What doctors say carries great weight, influencing each patient's hopefulness. After all, doctors are in the best position of anyone to discuss what is known about a disease in the context of their patient's illness.
For whatever reasons, Lucy's doctor steered away from sharing either her expectations or her hopes.
If I were Lucy, first I'd focus on expectation. I would enjoy complete confidence my oncologist expects me to do better on this treatment than on any other treatment option (including no treatment).
Personally, I would want to know the statistical likelihood of a good outcome for patients like me and would ask my doctor and/or other members of the healthcare team for the data.
Then I'd focus on hope by keeping in mind:
- Statistics tell me about groups of past patients and do NOT predict how I will do.
- If a doctor does not express hopefulness, this does NOT mean she feels hopeless or my situation is hopeless.
- No matter how hopeless my doctors feel, I can still feel hopeful.
As a Healthy Survivor, I'd work with the healthcare team (including counselors, if needed) to find and nourish whatever level of hope helps me get good care and live as fully as possible.