There is no prescribed timing for when to share difficult medical news. This can be as true for doctors with their patients as it is for patients with loved ones. There can be many reasons for withholding medical information, including doctors avoiding uncomfortable emotionally laden conversations or patients feeling a need to protect loved ones. […]
Recently, I was thinking about the Rolling Stones lyric “You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need” and found myself checking the dictionary for the definitions of “want” and “need.” I discovered that “want” is a desire for something that you could live […]
Over the years I’ve facilitated Writing is Good Medicine™ programs at the cancer center in Bennington, community workshops and conferences. More recently, due to safety concerns with COVID, online programs have been offered through my blog “A Medical Humanist’s Notes.” I must admit that I miss being in the room with participants but I’ve come […]
In 1999, oncologist Dr. Letha Mills, psychologist Dr. Bernard Bandman, patient Patricia Barr and I, a medical humanist, were invited to present a lecture at Brown Medical School. The topic was “Humanism in Medicine.” Our intent was to identify barriers and solutions to the practice of humanistic medical care.
While digging through files, I stumbled upon comments made by reviewers of “Art Informs Medicine,” an article that I submitted to the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2010. The reviewers were oncologists. And, it was they who would decide whether my piece would be accepted for publication in a journal for cancer care professionals.
In my July 7 blog Patient Resource Consultant, I shared the circumstances in which I found myself unexpectedly working in cancer care. In essence, Pat Barr, a breast cancer patient and a good friend, convinced the Bennington cancer center’s medical director to hire a patient advocate and volunteered me. Reluctantly, I accepted but changed the job title to “patient resource consultant,” which more accurately described how I envisioned my role.
In digging through files, I discovered a job description of my first position in the world of cancer care. Memories flooded in, including how I initially refused to accept the job. Let me tell you how the door was opened.
As readers of my blog already know, I am drawn to thinking about the space between uncertainty and hope. At this time of year, I often find myself revisiting “Stanzas Concerning an Ecstasy Experienced in High Contemplation” by St. John of the Cross, which moves me to thinking about the mysteries of life and what’s to come. I’d like to share his words with you.
We often hear the term “new normal” used in describing lifestyle changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, those words are familiar to cancer patients.
“In times of crisis we summon our strength…
call on every resource…every forgotten image…
every memory that can make us know our power.”
– Muriel Rukeyser
How does one live with uncertainty when facing a life-threatening illness? Where does one find inner strength? Where does one look for supportive resources? Most patients will tell you that they frequently ask themselves these questions.