Tuesday, June 17, 2014

More than a Case Number

I read a post by a friend of mine today.  We are not "best" friends, but her circumstances have drawn me to her.  I pray daily, sometimes hourly, for her and often text her to see how things are going.  I know she has lots of people praying and interceding, but the Lord has given me this assignment, to pray for her life.

I'm not just talking about healing, but full restoration; of her mind, body, soul and spirit.  There are so many indignities to the process of fighting cancer, so many ways you can be broken and it is easier to just give up and become the statistic everyone says you are.

For awhile now, I've been praying for a way to ease the burden of a cancer patient's journey.  I try to speak life and bring comfort, as well as support organizations that do that on a much larger scale.

But lately, my prayers have changed.  I want to be in the fight.  I want to DO something more.  I am healthy and I have knowledge and I've been asking the Lord to use that for His kingdom.

Maybe this is a first step.  I've written and posted an open letter to the oncology community.  The link to it (as a Google doc) is at the end of the post. 

Why the medical community?  Because beyond a patient's family and friends, the people they interact with where they are being treated are just about everyone they see.  Those interactions are CRITICAL to a person's health, just as a blood transfusion is when platelets are low.

Human life can be devalued when you constantly see it in a state of suffering.  It's desensitizing.  It is easy to turn emotions off and just stop caring.  For some, I understand, it is a coping mechanism.  But for the patient, this is their life.  Or it is the life of someone they love.

When that is treated insensitively, whether on purpose or accident, it's emotionally debilitating.

And y'all, if you know me, you know that I can not stand for that.

It takes awhile to wake up and realize it is happening.  It took me 4 months.  We were sincerely blessed with our oncologist.  She is GIFTED and WONDERFUL - the perfect combination.  Many of the physicians on her level are just like her.  I believe she has a vested interest in seeing Sophia grow up and she has always been extremely careful to choose her words and to help us understand.
Sophia was never a case number to her. 

But the sad fact is, Sophia was a case number to others.

So, I gotta say something.  I felt this way back then, in treatment, and I feel it just as strongly now. 

Use your position of influence wisely.  Choose your words carefully.  Think of the repercussions of your words and actions BEFORE you say them.  It doesn't matter if you are at Texas Children's, MD Anderson, St. Jude's or any other.  Help your team to remember you are treating the person, not the cancer.

And people, suffering people, should always be handled with care.

We have a Good and Merciful Judge who seeks to find the best solution - the life-giving solution - for every one.  I know He has a few more resources at His beck and call then we mere mortals do, (and we should access His power any time we need it!)  But we can at least try to remember these are people, not just numbers.

Not everyone is made up of steel and leather.  Some of us are soft and squishy on the inside and when things are said to us that may be routine to you, remember they are not to us.  And when you leave, we will cry our eyes out.
Then we will get mad.

Then, when it is all over, we will post things like this on our blogs: a call for change in the way cancer treatment is handled.  We want to find light where it is dark and we want you, medical community, help us be that light. 

An Open Letter to the Oncology Medical Community: A Call To Mercy 


Gwin Bosco said...

This is perfect. Thank you.

Becky Williams said...

My family & I experienced this on my daddy's deathbed with his doctor @ MD Anderson almost 14 years ago. It broke my mother's heart & then she got mad just as you said. I pray that this will reach the medical community.