Months ago someone emailed me a request to read his new cancer memoir. If someone trying to help others asks me for help, I usually say "yes." So a few days later, a review copy arrived.
Unfortunately, after reading it and before reviewing it, I misplaced it.
Until recently, if I saw someone who had lost excess weight, without hesitation I'd say something positive like, "Wow, you look terrific!"
When young parents are dying, they face the loss of everything they know and hold dear. Arguably their greatest pain is losing the chance to raise their child(ren). To help such parents find hope in desperate times, I offer a suggestion:
An Oncology Times article caught my eye: "Relieving Major Depression in Cancer Patients: Specific 'Biopsychosocial' Method Found Useful." It reviewed a study that addressed the impact of an intervention developed to treat depression, reduce stress and help patients develop coping strategies.
James C. Salwitz, MD doesn't use the term Healthy Survivor. Still, the story he tells offers a name and face to the idea that patients in difficult circumstances can find Happiness in a Storm.
A reader commented on my last post, eloquently sharing his hard-won insights about grief. In doing so, he highlighted an important element of grief: time.
The preceding four posts on grief and acceptance set the stage for a closer look at how patients can be Healthy Survivors at the end-of-life. In other words, how can you both get good care and live as fully as possible after a diagnosis of terminal disease?
Illness is often associated with loss, even when the medical outcome is excellent.
Since prolonged grief is associated with distress and dysfunction, an understanding of healthy ways to deal with loss may propel patients' pursuit of Healthy Survivorship -- and happiness. Reading a 2008 editorial in the British Journal of Psychiatry might further this understanding.
In yesterday's post, I shared my reaction to a rant found on a cancer-related listserv. I explained my concerns regarding such expressions of anger, disappointment and frustration.
So what are Healthy Survivors to do if, for example, they learn they had not received important information about aftereffects of treatments they received?
During my first remission I began work on After Cancer, a book to help patients understand and respond in healthy ways to the medical, practical and emotional challenges of recovery and long-term survivorship. The subtitle was Your Guide Back to Normal.
But as I struggled with my own aftereffects and then recurrences, I realized my original approach wasn't going to work well for me.
An interesting press release from the University of Texas supports my long-standing contention that it is better to ask a patient, "How are things?" than to ask "How are you?"
I'd like to pass along some wise, low-tech advice for dealing with a family health crisis or family member's chronic illness: Be quick to forgive.
In my last post, Hope or Letting Go, I shared the story of a physician, Dr. Youn, still troubled by an incident that happened ten years ago. Since reading it, I've been bothered by some of the questions he posed.
For example, Dr. Youn asked if concern for the needs of the patient's loved ones ever take precedence over the patients' needs?
My last post offered tips for recognizing stigma. My key message was that Healthy Survivors have a right to choose whether or not they advocate to destigmatize the disease that has become part of their life.
Today I'll tackle the challenge of dealing with this stigma.
In my April 11th post, I refer to an article in Women's Day titled, "The Stigma of Illness."
Stigma can keep patients from becoming Healthy Survivors, so let's talk about dealing with stigma in healthy ways.
A picture is worth a thousand words. But what if you can't see the picture? It didn't stop Diane Rose.
A short story for Healthy Survivors:
A NYTimes op-ed piece entitled A Fighting Spirit Won't Save Your Life concludes, "Linking health to personal virtue and vice not only is bad science, it’s bad medicine."
In some situations, your best choice is one that still involves some hardship, loss and/or pain. Perceiving such difficulties as a sacrifice can help patients on the road to Healthy Survivorship.
Theresa Brown is a nurse who appreciates the healing power of patients' humor. In a December 1, 2010 article for the NYTimes' Well blog, Brown shares a few anecdotes that illustrate how she is often amused by patients' stories that others might consider offensive.
If you're sick, you need people to empathize with you, right? Maybe not.
Healthy Survivors (1) get good care and (2) live as fully as possible. The second criteria can pose quite a challenge in the face of losses, especially if you feel you are no longer at your best.
Jean Baruch is a remarkable nurse who understands how to help children with serious illness become Healthy Survivors.
An aphorism from the business world may help on the path to Healthy Survivorship: The current system is perfectly designed to deliver the results it does.
So if you don't like the way things are going under the circumstances, change something! Today I am blogging about changing how you walk.
Esther Mauzy can teach us all a thing or two about how to become a Healthy Survivor.
How the trapped Chilean miners coped with life more than 2,000 feet below the earth's surface offers rich lessons on Healthy Survivorship. When you or a loved one enters the "storm" of illness or injury:
When a parent has late-stage cancer with limited life expectancy, everyone wants to rewrite the expected ending. The doctors and nurses, the parent with cancer, the family's loved ones and especially the children want to make it "all better."
If fairy godmothers existed, cancer survivors with late-stage disease who are rearing children might ask: "Fairy Godmother, can you give my family a vacation from my illness? Please?"
Now some parents can.
When my three children were young, every night I put them to bed one at a time. We'd talk for a few minutes before beginning our ritual interactive songs, tucking-in, kisses, "Nighty night" and lights out.
One evening as I began the routine with my youngest, he said something that practically stopped my heart: "Mom, do you remember when...."
After losing a loved one, you might feel that you've been left with a huge hole in your life. The "hole" houses your sadness, loneliness and emptiness along with other painful thoughts and feelings.
Naturally, many people try to get rid of the hole, say, by trying to fill in the hole or trying to run away from the hole. Not me.
Rabbi David Wolpe writes a wonderful blog called "Off the Pulpit" that often offers useful messages for patients. This week, Wolpe offers a tool that can help foster healing relationships, an essential element of healing for Healthy Survivors.
In Razing and Rising, I mention that Healthy Survivors "seek guidance and support." What if you've never needed professional counseling before?
When I was first diagnosed, my medical background made me more prepared than most for the physical and emotional challenges of cancer treatment. What blindsided me were the medical and emotional issues that arose after completion of treatment.
Posted at 08:16 PM in Action, Clinical Trials, Dictionary of Healthy Survivorship, Doctor-Patient Communication, Happiness, Healthy Survivorship, Knowledge, Post-treatment Recovery, Science, Treatment Decisions, Uncertainty | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
"Imagine you know you have only a few months to live. What would you do with your remaining time?"
Illness and injury have a nasty habit of causing losses. Can such loss be good?
The title is not a trick. Mr. Charles Okeke had been tethered to an artifical pump in a hospital for over two years before a new portable artificial heart made it possible for him to go home to his wife and two young children.
I'm sharing his dramatic story for two reasons:
A memorial is something that serves as a focus for remembering a past event or person who died. Monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and online legacies such as those found on www.legacy.com are examples.
Can a frame of mind be a memorial?
When I was a child, I thought people over 40 years of age were very old. I believed they were done growing up and knew everything one needs to know. Wrong.
Now over 50 years old, I often say, "I'm a work in progress."
What would you say if you got a flat tire on your way to an interview for your dream job? Or if you (or your wife) began bleeding two weeks after in-vitro fertlization? Or if you learned you or a loved one needed more chemo?
Does "Life is good!" come to mind?
As soon as I learn something that might help someone else, I want to share it and spare as many people as I can from learning lessons the hard way. Can my advice be too much?
Last week in Ithaca, as a member of the Presidents Council of Cornell Women I attended a networking lunch with a group of women undergrads. When it was my turn to offer a nugget of advice, I said:
Today let's look at her husband's view of the article. Robert Pardi's comments were posted on Pallimed to enrich -- or shall I say, to straighten out -- the discussion about his wife's decision. Although he doesn't use the term, he's telling us his wife was a Healthy Survivor.
Fatal Distraction is a gripping article that is not about illness, but about surviving the death of a child. Although wrenching to read, this article by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gene Weingarten (2010) illustrates useful lessons for Healthy Survivors and their caregivers.