I decided to try something different this evening with my blog post… I am using Dragon Naturally Speaking to post my blog this evening. I have come to the realization that I am much better at speaking than I am at typing: this just might be a better way for me to communicate my thoughts, feelings and emotions as I moved forward with ‘The Purple Jacket.” So far so good!
This past week, The Little One had his appointment with the oncologist. What was amazing about this appointment was that I did not feel the need, nor did I have the time to go to the appointment with him. Now the ‘Mother Hen’ in me worried all morning about the whereabouts of “The Little One” yet I knew deep down inside me that could handle the oncologist, handle the drive down to the office and be independent. He did not get to be 81 without some form of independence!
Just as is the primary care doctor was encouraged at his progress, so was the oncologist. It just so happens that the oncologist and the primary care doctor share the same office space; this convenient for sharing information between staff and doctors. The other benefit of this location in that the chemotherapy treatments is on the site, too! This setup has made easier, not only for “The Little One”, but for all the patients that these physicians see on a regular basis.
The oncologist continued to spread good cheer, good health and well-being for “The Little One.” As I mentioned in my last blog post, the oncologist had projected 3 or 4 months to live after the initial diagnosis and subsequent treatments. While he is pleased to be proven wrong, statistically speaking, the cure rate for esophageal cancer is one of the lowest there is. If we are going solely by the book, then 3 to 4 months is correct.
It is understandable why a diagnosis like this would be attached to such a short lifespan. That being said, we forged ahead mindful of the pitfalls, yet striving for the best possible results. We never want to rule out hope!
I guess what amazes me the most about this visit to the oncologist is not the fact that we all recognize that the little one has far exceeded anyone’s expectations; it’s why is the doctor felt like he has to end this positive visit with the words…”You know you’re on borrowed time!”
Granted I was not there for this conversation, and I have no reason to doubt what “The Little One” has told me in regards to this conversation. Yet, I am not sure what the purpose of comments like this does for a patient, for a caregiver or for the physician themselves? Throughout this whole ordeal, we have taken a positive approach to dealing with the effects of cancer. We could sulked, we could have played the blame game, we could have gone into denial… However, what good would that have done for either one of us? That’s just like saying…”you know we’re on borrowed time.”
I do not claim to be a doctor, I do not claim to be a clinician, but I do believe that I understand how a positive outlook and healthy communication can have a soothing and healing effect on the mind, on the body, and of the spirit when dealing with critical health issues. When you think about it, we are all on borrowed time, yet does a cancer patient really need to be reminded of that?
The healing power of body, mind and spirit plays such an important role in overcoming physical (and mental) illness. To use a sports metaphor, the best defense is usually a good offense. The best way to deal with a diagnosis of cancer is to be as realistic and honest as possible. Our best offense was to plunge full force When I look at this comment from the oncologist in this light, I can understand it. Yet to presuppose a diagnosis without the addition of hope, only leads us to despair. Reality is painful enough, more so without the effects of hope!
Through this experience, I am convinced that one of the key tools in transmitting hope and reality, is the ability to be an empathetic communicator. Calmly… Empathy transmits hope and reality. I don’t think that there is anymore that we can ask for when dealing with the stark reality of Cancer or any other disabling illness.
You see…We Might Have Cancer…But Cancer Does Not Have Us!
- Amazement! (thepurplejacket.com)
- Does Your Oncologist Care About Your Quality of Life? (psychologytoday.com)
- Cancer patients urged to exercise (standard.co.uk)
4 responses to “On Borrowed Time?”
Thank you for sharing this Chris. It was painful to read what the doctor said to The Little One. It’s a tricky area and like you I fall on the side of maintaining hope but also being realistic. I feel hope always comes first because it’s part of life. Secondly; let’s face it, most anything is possible. Life has a habit of ignoring 99% of our predictions. I just don’t see how saying “borrowed time” helps anyone. If he wanted to be helpful maybe something like “You’ve been given a remarkable gift! Have you thought about the things you’d like to do?”
When K was in her last month the end seemed clearly imminent – but it was never certain. She prepared going in various ways but lived each day as she had always done; enjoying existence. She spent wonderful moments with family, had me drive her through the mountains almost daily or wheel her through parks. We just loved hanging out with each other and the feelings were our treasure.
A dear friend of mine recently pointed out that we are like a pot with a hole in it. The entire ocean of life pours through us and yet we retain very little. It’s not minutes that get lost it’s entire days; years! If we can value and enjoy even one day then we have saved something extraordinary.
All my best to you and The Little One. Enjoy the gifts.
BTW, your Dragon application seemed to work pretty well.
Like you, your friend has quite a bit of wisdom. We have to enjoy the day and soak it in, like a ray of sunshine. Some days are going to be better than others, but we rejoice in everyday deal with the challenges as they come to us.
I am not sure what compelled to oncologist to say what he did, but what’s done it done. Just as you commented, we move on because ‘we have been given a remarkable gift’ and want to enjoy it for as long as possible. Like you and K, we too just enjoy hanging out together. Yesterday is gone, today is here, not sure about tomorrow. Yet we are going to enjoy today to the fullest!
Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughtfulness.
Anyone with a shoe collection the size of The Little One’s clearly does not accept the concept of “borrwed time”! I’m betting he’ll be around plenty long enough to wear evey pair several times over. Doctors don’t know everything, despite what they say.
I am looking forward to heading home and sharing your comments with him. He probably will want to go shoe shopping!
Thanks so much for your kindness and support!
Chris and ‘The Little One’