After reading a series of postings on a colon cancer forum– until I just couldn’t read any more because my heart was breaking from all the confusion and anguish, much of it actually caused by these patients’ doctors– I felt an overwhelming need to speak out about this.
Your oncologist is NOT God! Any oncologist who tells his/her patient with unshakable authority and utter certainty that the path he is mapping out for them is unquestionably correct is not being honest. The whole domain of cancer treatment is murky, to say the very least. Every patient responds differently to each treatment, and it is not possible for the oncologist to know in advance how any particular patient will respond.
In this chapter of Shedding Light on the Cancer Journey, I mull over three revelations that came out of John’s time in the oncology department:
1. Statistics are just generalities.
2. A doctor who speaks in absolutes is playing God.
“It would be a miracle if you were cured.” (a quote from our oncologist, whose demeanor indicated that this possibility was completely ludicrous)
I wrote about this in my last post. Inexplicable things happen all the time in medicine. Oncology, in particular, is a realm in which much is unknown. Any doctor who tries to pretend otherwise is being dishonest, with himself and with his patient. I honor the doctor who has the courage to say, “I don’t know for sure, but this is my recommendation– and let me explain why.”
3. Your oncologist is probably not a good person to ask about potential side effects.
I know this sounds unthinkable, but as improbable as it seems, this truth became painfully self-evident to us as John’s chemo regimen progressed and the side effects began to mount.Who did we turn to for answers?
This and much more about this cancer journey that can only be learned through hard experience is now available in an easy-to-search E-book format that can be read on any PC or Mac, Kindle, Blackberry, Ipod Touch, Ipad or Android: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004T3331M
The reader interface is available free from Amazon and is downloadable in seconds.
One simple question was my guidepost and motivation in writing this book: how can what we learned– about the medical system, dealing with arrogant doctors, about the treatments and side effects, about coping, pain control — how could I present all of that in a way that might be helpful to other cancer patients?
My sole goal has been to use our experience to lessen the suffering of others who follow in our footsteps. The result is one family’s experience illuminated by years of personal research and contemplation aimed at answering the unanswered questions that our doctors would/could never address.
I will make no profit from the sale of this book. All proceeds will go towards the support of the 400 monks, nuns and yogis in the seven Tibetan monasteries of Tulku Orgyen Zangpo Rinpoche, who have devoted their lives towards building the foundation for peace and freedom from suffering for all beings in this world. It was their prayers and the gentle guidance of Tulku Orgyen which so profoundly influenced John’s ultimately serene death.