Dr. Wendy Harpham is a doctor of internal medicine, cancer survivor, and award-winning and best-selling author of books about cancer: Healthy Survivorship, recovery and late effects, and raising children when a parent has cancer. She is also a public speaker, patient advocate, and mother of three.
A trying time of survivorship is the interval between knowing you might have a problem and learning your exact diagnosis. Why? Because you can't reassure yourself you are okay - or are going to be okay - if doctors are ordering tests for the purpose of finding out if you are okay or are going to be okay.
Pastor Carlos Wilton refers to a quote by Friedrich Nietsche, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." Wilton, a survivor whose lymphoma is currently stable, says, "Those who have the audacity to believe in the resurrection can attach a little addendum to that saying: Even the thing that one day kills us will do the same."
When something goes wrong, people often conclude somebody did something wrong. Or that everybody did everything right, but the original decision - the choice that led to the problem - was wrong. But these may be the wrong conclusions.
Patients and the healthcare team can do everything right, and things can still go wrong.
Empathy is the ability to understand and vicariously experience the feelings of someone else. This skill is adaptive, helping you respond to another person's needs in healthy ways.
With the rise of support groups -- and now Internet chats and blogs -- patients sharing similar problems can easily seek out and find each other. And they do. So can a Healthy Survivor ever have too much empathy?