In a poignant and provocative essay published on the Metavivor website, Lucy Stanovick illustrates one of the challenges Healthy Survivors face when trying to find hope in the setting of unfavorable odds for survival.
At a follow-up visit, Stanovick clearly trusts her oncologist. She expresses confidence she's receiving therapies that give her the best chance of survival.
Stanovick is searching for evidence of something she wants and needs from her physician at this visit. So she looks beyond the white coat to size up what her physician is thinking and feeling.
Despite detecting impatience, Stanovick musters the nerve to ask one of the most difficult questions a patient can ask when dealing with the uncertainty of a poor long-term prognosis.
While her physician's answer includes words that reflect compassion -- "How sad." -- it did not answer Stanovick's question. Nor did it address the real question behind the question, namely, "Is there hope for me?"
In my next post, I'll talk about this problem.