A recent thread on a cancer listserv included the rants of listserv members who were angry they hadn't been better warned about the possibility of developing aftereffects. This is a problem.
Sure, it's a problem if patients and family members are surprised by aftereffects. But the problem I want to address is their ranting.
For one, they lumped all physicians together, saying such things as “they” do this or that. As I see it, if a patient has a bad experience with a physician, the patient can draw conclusions only about that particular physician (i.e., “he” or “she” did this or that; not “they”). Lumping all physicians together fosters an adversarial stance, one that is not healing for anyone.
For another, they suggested that physicians don’t care what happens to patients after completion of treatment. Nothing could be further from the truth. In my years of service as a patient advocate on national survivorship committees (including ASCO's survivorship committee), I have witnessed firsthand the angst and dedication of clinicians and researchers who are striving to find less toxic and more effective therapies. Just Google “aftereffects” and see how many links you get. Compared with when I entered my first remission in 1991, the volume of research and resources related to aftereffects is astounding. The percentage of clinical oncologists and primary care physicians who are doing their best to address post-treatment issues is growing every year.
What’s a Healthy Survivor to do? I'll answer in my next post.