Don’t Be a STATISTIC….

July 28, 2009

The question is about will power and reinforcement… Yours versus the doctors who will impose their will upon you….

Motivation like that of Sean Swarner, who is the first cancer survivor to climb the heights of Mount Everest, is a powerful gift. It gives us the ability to overcome obstacles that on an ordinary day might seem so daunting that we never even attempt to fjord them. Motivation; however, like the tides of the ocean ebbs and flows, and it is important to keep that motivation, that drive, up especially when facing a diagnosis… the diagnosis. For my family it was my father’s cancer diagnosis of undetermined origin.

His diagnosis was a shock to our family foundation. You felt the entirety of our family structure shudder as if armaggedon itself had arrived that day, but only for our family, while others seemed not to notice. They just went about their everyday business… It surprised us, horrified us and perplexed us. Why didn’t anyone else seem to see what was happening… then the questions… so many questions… came flooding like a tsunami of immense proportions, as if the sky had been blocked by a deluge of thoughts…How did this happen? Why did this happen? and What can we do to stop it? Who do we go to? Questions of faith, fault, the future…

My first instinct was to read… everything… anything… if it had cancer in it’s title, the body, I read it, highlighted it, bound it into a binder, which became my bible. I carried it everywhere, adding to it circling, writing in the margins. I memorized statistics, figures, treatments, hospitals, doctors everything… I read them so often they become apart of my common vocabulary.

My father’s statistics were depressing…haunting, but for me I continued to twist them to find the positive… “okay 10%… that’s 10% – Who’s to tell me he can’t be apart of that 10%? The medicine’s going to work.” I became the champion of the upbeat message. Everywhere I went, I knew in my bones that it was going to work, if I worked hard enough, if I believed hard enough…

This was my answer… motivation, determination and sheer will power. Belief…Not to sound like a traveling evangelist, whose tells you that your faith needs to be strong enough and that’s how you get better, but the power of positive thinking is magical. It has the ability to change everything. This coupled with proper medicine can be the magic bullets to end any horrific disease.

My desire; however, wasn’t always matched by my father’s doctors. It seemed that many of them had given up before they had even begun. I understand the idea of medicine as a business, and I understand that their are statistics, and statistics are statistics for a reason, but in the words of Mark Twain, “There are lies, there are damned lies and then there are statistics.” Who the hell gets to determine whether my life, my father’s life is as simple as a math problem? Each battle with cancer is different, it is its on personal war, and some doctors and some medical professionals need to understand that.

    Now, this is not a criticism against all doctors and members of the medical community,

but it is a war I’m willing to wage against those that have become embittered, those that have lost their passion for making this disease vanish, those that have lost their heart and their ability to empathize with those on the other side of bed. They need to find a new profession. I believe this is the case with any member of any profession. Think about it we rage against teachers who have lost their zeal, their desire to revolutionize the teaching industry, but, yet other professions are left to their own devices.

This is where I began to question the motivation of some hospitals when I read the US News and World Report on Hospitals and Medicine. One of the statistics that becomes relevant in charting the level of care for cancer patients was the mortality rate. This statistic scares me, because then who is to say that these hospitals don’t rush terminal patients out of their hospitals, because god forbid their ranking should fall, because the patient has passed on. The question then needs to be answered…Have some hospitals, doctors given up on fighting for their patients, because they wish to keep their lofty number in this magazine? We choose doctors because of their expertise, because we wish that they will have the answer, and yes, sometimes they will not, but shouldn’t they do everything within their power to save us? Isn’t that why we trust them?

Therefore, as patients, caregivers it is imperiative that you take an active role in your treatment, the treatment of those you care about and to fight for them and for yourself. More importantly ensure that you are doing everything that is physically possibly to fight your disease. This means you must surround yourself with people who believe as ardently as you do… including, and most importantly the doctors whom are treating you, because they too are essential to creating an atmosphere of positive will power and positive reinforcement. I’m not asking them to lie to you to inflate your sense of recovery, but to devise a plan that wishes to take your disease head on…and fight it…. That positive reinforcement will be your gift and will allow you to fjord any obstacle much like Sean Swarner. For me even though my father didn’t survive his battle with cancer, my positive reinforcement is to continue the fight for others in his name, because even if I can’t save my father any more, maybe… just maybe I can save yours.

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3 Responses to “Don’t Be a STATISTIC….”

  1. Leigh Says:

    This is beautifully written and clearly from the heart, and I agree wholeheartedly. I went through those months again when I read it. I think blame can lie with doctors who don’t have the balls to screw the statistics, but also to the magazines that don’t choose or explain their methods carefully enough, and the people who read them and take them as the be all and end all in factors that decide where they should get treatment. Personal responsibility is the theme all around. Doctors should do the best and most they can for each patient. Period. Journalists that are not medical professionals must consider the impact that their work will have in people’s lives. U.S. News is not a medical journal, yet their magazine can affect funding and grants that hospitals receive, and therefore affects how the hospitals treat patients. People must take responsibility for their treatment, as you did with your father’s and find the best care that they can find, regardless of where it comes from. One hospital where you sought treatment had the best minds and the best machines, but the little local hospital had the doctor with the best communication skills and the will to fight no matter what. A small clinic in the middle of nowhere might have a low mortality rate simply because they are willing to fight when the big hospitals have given up. Cancer is different in everyone and therefore everyone must find their own best treatment. Until we mke more strides in cures and treatments, advocacy is the cancer patient’s best weapon.

  2. gameoncancer Says:

    Comments from Katrina: The way you can write and express yourself coupled with your ‘motivation, determination and sheer will’ – you will definitely make a difference in many peoples lives and go very far with what you are trying to do.

  3. samina Says:

    Your writings inspires me yes we can do something for others and motivation and determination is the key to this


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