An anesthesiologist who, while checking himself into the hospital because he’s having a heart attack, calls from the admitting office to make sure that his patient who is scheduled for surgery that day (my husband John) is comfortable and has had all of his needs met?

An interventional radiologist who, on the evening before his one-month Asian vacation begins, personally drives across town after work to pick up his patient’s PET scan results. then returns to the hospital to spend 2 hours plotting a very tricky RFA procedure with his colleague who will carry it out, then calls John from his home at 8 PM to say goodbye and reassure him that he will be in good hands?

A nurse anesthesiologist who tells her supervisor that if my husband is ever scheduled for surgery on one of her days off, she would like to be called in to assist– on her day off?

These were just some of the members of my husband’s amazing medical team. We knew none of them before this whole cancer odyssey began, and actually got off to a very bad, almost disastrous start with the anesthesiologist. So what was it that John and I did that aroused such kindness and compassion from these medical professionals? What did we do that forged such a strong sense of team, and how might our experience be transferrable to other cancer patients?

The rest of this chapter in Shedding Light on the Cancer Journey details how John and I slowly taught his doctors  about the healing power of compassion and forged them into “the John Team”.

All this and much more on the endless decisions and confusions of a cancer patient’s life– what your doctor doesn’t tell you, what could (until the publication of this book) only be learned  through hard experience– is now available in E-book format at Amazon:

The E-book can be read on any computer,  Ipad, Ipod Touch, Blackberry or Android– the reader is completely free and quickly downloadable from Amazon.

I will make absolutely 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. Their years of prayers on John’s behalf and the gentle guidance of Tulku Orgyen played a vital role in John’s ultimately serene death.


About surfingon

I live in Hawaii. I surf in the winter and swim in the summer. I have been a hospice volunteer with a contemplative-care oriented hospice for 25 years have been part of their team that trains new volunteers for the last 9 years. I have walked the colon cancer path with my beloved husband these past 5 years. He died very peacefully in April 2009. I now seek to share what we learned, to shed light on the many dark corners of this often mystifying, heartbreaking and heart-opening journey.
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  1. Your sharing of John’s experiences with how-he-became-human to his doctors, and their transformation to compassion really hits the nail on the head about the patient’s role in the success of doctor-patient communication. This reminds me of when I was a patient advocate for a 26 year-old car accident victim who was transferred to an in-patient rehabilitation center following a long period of hospitalization. The patient could not swallow capsules or pills, and could only ingest medication in liquid form. The reason was her phobia. When this patient arrived at the rehabilitation center by ambulance, she was due for her pain medication. Of course the meds arrived in pill/capsule form, and I immediately halted the delivery to the patient’s room and explained the problem to the meds nurse. She smugly said to me, “Well we’ll just mash them up in applesauce.” Knowing full well this wouldn’t work, instead of arguing or making a scene, I said let’s go talk it over with the patient. Once the meds nurse saw and spoke with this beautiful and kind young lady, the patient became an individual human. Liquid medications arrived shortly thereafter, and the issue was never again questioned.

  2. einav says:

    Dear Rachel,I cannot begin to tell you how helpfull and meaningfull your writing is. My father was just diagnosed with colon cancer stage 4 and I’m franticaly searching for knowledge to help us with what lies ahead. Thank you for the priceless information (so far no one has even mentioned RFA to us or went through aspects of chemo you’ve pointed out)and the inspiration you’re so generously providing. It is such a help for people in our situation.

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