Whose success story?

January 20, 2015

I had my six month follow up with my gynocologic oncologist today, the most caring and kind Dr. S..  He is my surgeon and technically I don’t need to see him right now as I am under the care of a medical oncologist, the good Dr. R., but… I went back to him early in 2014 hoping for a surgical solution to continuing bowel blockage issues.  I knew before I saw him really that surgery was not going to be an option, but I like and trust him and was feeling desperate.  So, I began seeing Dr. S. again every few months.  I like to think of him as another resource for information and support even.  Since I last saw him my blockage spontaneously resolved and I’ve gained about 10 pounds.  I no longer am in pain and my quality of life is pretty good although I am still on the chemotherapy train, without a break now for about two years.

Dr. S. entered the exam room with a big grin on his face and just stared at me looking goofily happy.  He was so pleased with how I am doing and that I am no longer in pain.  He said I made his day!  He held up a paper that had the list of 11 distinct chemo regimens I’ve had since March of 2010 and exclaimed “It’s working!”.  I was taken back a little by this and  I thought his perspective was interesting.  From my perspective, if the chemo were working I wouldn’t still be rifling through the catalog of drugs but rather be in blissful remission.  He said that I am the success story and the antithesis to the ongoing rhetoric about stopping treatment for patients like me.  First, I was not aware that in the medical world there is ongoing rhetoric about giving up on patients like me.  That’s a little disturbing.  And, well yes, I guess from his view I am a medical success story.    I have not thought of “my story” in those terms before this.   I am receving more and more comments like this from my doctor(s).  Sometimes not really direct comments but implications really.  Dr. R. has told me I am a role model to some of his other patients.  There are two of his patients that I actually know, so “some” really represents one or two, but I get what he was telling me.  I was surprised at his comment.  Cyncial even.  I speculated that they must teach that sort of encouragement in medical school.  But whether genuine or contrived,  it did work.  I hold my head higher around my Teal Talk support group ladies and when I walk the halls of the cancer center.  I even put more effort into my appearance for these encounters.

Dr. S.’s recent comment leads me to believe that he sees my survival as his/their success, medically speaking.  Of course these skilled, caring doctors play a big role and I wouldn’t still be here without them.   The surgeries and chemotherapy have bought me time.  However, the good quality of life that I am currently enjoying while fighting is all me.  I’ve been lower than pond scum both physically and emotionally at times and, yes, the chemo does make me ill.  But I emerge each and every time, rising up to fully live and enjoy my life because I want to.

I now realize the importance and impact of the role I have played along this journey.   I  will describe this realization as nothing less than an epiphany.  It hit me so suddenly laying on the exam table wrapped in a sheet, feet in stirrups that I nearly doubled back after the appointment to tell the doctor “Wait a minute, let’s not give chemo all the credit!”.  I should have.  I know that I have, without conscious intention, positively impacted my health.  Just imagine what I can do now with intention!   My heart soars with hope from this new found power!

About clamberton

I'm wife, mother of two, former IT professional and survivor of ovarian cancer living in Atlanta GA. I've started this blog to share inspiration and sometimes maybe true gut emotion as I travel the cancer road. My hope is to make cancer a less mysterious and lonely place for others travelling this road and their caregivers.
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