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ďDear Doctor, Can I trust you?Ē

by Betsy de Parry


Dear Doctor,

Here we are, you and me, our lives connected by cancer. My cancer. Under the circumstances, Iím really glad to have you in my life, and I want our relationship to be very, very long and very, very good, but since I canít find a manual on how to build our relationship, Iím guessing that, like any good one, it has to start with trust.

But trust takes time, which we donít have, so I have some things to ask and say.

First, just what am I trusting in you? That youíre brilliant, cool under pressure, experienced, knowledgeable and up-to-date on the latest miracles of modern science for my type of cancer? That you wonít be too proud to call in colleagues or send me to them if you get stumped or run out of ideas? That youíll always be honest with me no matter how hard it is for you or me? That youíll help me set realistic expectations without ever stealing my hope? That youíll be my strength if Iím too weak to be strong? That you wonít give up on me if the going gets rough and it looks like I wonít be one of your success stories?

Do you understand that itís hard enough to put my trust in you, but even harder to put blind faith in the people I canít see but on whom you rely? Like the pathologists who look at tiny pieces of me or the radiologists who interpret pictures of my innards. You may know their credentials, but I don't.

I get that you went to medical school to learn how to identify and treat disease, not to listen to me blather on about how cancer is more than a physical problem. That itís really personal. That it sweeps us patients and our families into a tempest of confusion, fear, frustration, vulnerability and isolation from the healthy world. Iíll try very hard to check those emotions at the door when you and I visit, but if they creep into the examining room, is it too much to ask you to recognize that Iím not just a collection of cells that needs to be fixed while you work to fix my wayward cells?

And Doc, surely you know that your sophisticated equipment canít see the parts of me that make me who I am. And I am not my cancer. No machine can identify the parts that make me love and laugh. And none can calculate how very afraid I am. Of what lies ahead. Of dying. Of pain. Of medical procedures. And of becoming a number in a bureaucracy where no one will care whether I end up running a marathon or being turned over in a bed like a piece of meat on a rotisserie. Could you occasionally share my fear and shore up my hope?

Doc, Iíve tried to put myself in your shoes, but I canít imagine how, day in and day out, you see humanity at its weakest and still find the strength to help us. Iím just glad that you can. And I know I need much more from you than you need from me, but Iíll do anything to help you help me, if only you can squeeze out a little time to teach me how to be a good cancer patient in addition to everything else that I ask of you.

Neither you nor I can predict the future, Doc, and I donít expect you to do more than is humanly possible. But may I trust you to treat my future as if it were your very own?

Respectfully, Your Patient

Reprinted with permission from Betsy de Parry, author of Adventures in Cancer Land.

CONTACT US

©2017 Lymphoma Foundation of America. LymphomoHelp® All rights reserved.
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lymphoma survivor

ďDear Doctor, Can I trust you?Ē

by Betsy de Parry


Dear Doctor,

Here we are, you and me, our lives connected by cancer. My cancer. Under the circumstances, Iím really glad to have you in my life, and I want our relationship to be very, very long and very, very good, but since I canít find a manual on how to build our relationship, Iím guessing that, like any good one, it has to start with trust.

But trust takes time, which we donít have, so I have some things to ask and say.

First, just what am I trusting in you? That youíre brilliant, cool under pressure, experienced, knowledgeable and up-to-date on the latest miracles of modern science for my type of cancer? That you wonít be too proud to call in colleagues or send me to them if you get stumped or run out of ideas? That youíll always be honest with me no matter how hard it is for you or me? That youíll help me set realistic expectations without ever stealing my hope? That youíll be my strength if Iím too weak to be strong? That you wonít give up on me if the going gets rough and it looks like I wonít be one of your success stories?

Do you understand that itís hard enough to put my trust in you, but even harder to put blind faith in the people I canít see but on whom you rely? Like the pathologists who look at tiny pieces of me or the radiologists who interpret pictures of my innards. You may know their credentials, but I don't.

I get that you went to medical school to learn how to identify and treat disease, not to listen to me blather on about how cancer is more than a physical problem. That itís really personal. That it sweeps us patients and our families into a tempest of confusion, fear, frustration, vulnerability and isolation from the healthy world. Iíll try very hard to check those emotions at the door when you and I visit, but if they creep into the examining room, is it too much to ask you to recognize that Iím not just a collection of cells that needs to be fixed while you work to fix my wayward cells?

And Doc, surely you know that your sophisticated equipment canít see the parts of me that make me who I am. And I am not my cancer. No machine can identify the parts that make me love and laugh. And none can calculate how very afraid I am. Of what lies ahead. Of dying. Of pain. Of medical procedures. And of becoming a number in a bureaucracy where no one will care whether I end up running a marathon or being turned over in a bed like a piece of meat on a rotisserie. Could you occasionally share my fear and shore up my hope?

Doc, Iíve tried to put myself in your shoes, but I canít imagine how, day in and day out, you see humanity at its weakest and still find the strength to help us. Iím just glad that you can. And I know I need much more from you than you need from me, but Iíll do anything to help you help me, if only you can squeeze out a little time to teach me how to be a good cancer patient in addition to everything else that I ask of you.

Neither you nor I can predict the future, Doc, and I donít expect you to do more than is humanly possible. But may I trust you to treat my future as if it were your very own?

Respectfully, Your Patient

Reprinted with permission from Betsy de Parry, author of Adventures in Cancer Land.

CONTACT US

©2017 Lymphoma Foundation of America. LymphomoHelp® All rights reserved.
help and support for lymphoma patients and familyHelp for you and
your family
Research for
the cure
Surviving Lymphoma Who we
are
You can help
lymphoma survivor

ďDear Doctor, Can I trust you?Ē

by Betsy de Parry


Dear Doctor,

Here we are, you and me, our lives connected by cancer. My cancer. Under the circumstances, Iím really glad to have you in my life, and I want our relationship to be very, very long and very, very good, but since I canít find a manual on how to build our relationship, Iím guessing that, like any good one, it has to start with trust.

But trust takes time, which we donít have, so I have some things to ask and say.

First, just what am I trusting in you? That youíre brilliant, cool under pressure, experienced, knowledgeable and up-to-date on the latest miracles of modern science for my type of cancer? That you wonít be too proud to call in colleagues or send me to them if you get stumped or run out of ideas? That youíll always be honest with me no matter how hard it is for you or me? That youíll help me set realistic expectations without ever stealing my hope? That youíll be my strength if Iím too weak to be strong? That you wonít give up on me if the going gets rough and it looks like I wonít be one of your success stories?

Do you understand that itís hard enough to put my trust in you, but even harder to put blind faith in the people I canít see but on whom you rely? Like the pathologists who look at tiny pieces of me or the radiologists who interpret pictures of my innards. You may know their credentials, but I don't.

I get that you went to medical school to learn how to identify and treat disease, not to listen to me blather on about how cancer is more than a physical problem. That itís really personal. That it sweeps us patients and our families into a tempest of confusion, fear, frustration, vulnerability and isolation from the healthy world. Iíll try very hard to check those emotions at the door when you and I visit, but if they creep into the examining room, is it too much to ask you to recognize that Iím not just a collection of cells that needs to be fixed while you work to fix my wayward cells?

And Doc, surely you know that your sophisticated equipment canít see the parts of me that make me who I am. And I am not my cancer. No machine can identify the parts that make me love and laugh. And none can calculate how very afraid I am. Of what lies ahead. Of dying. Of pain. Of medical procedures. And of becoming a number in a bureaucracy where no one will care whether I end up running a marathon or being turned over in a bed like a piece of meat on a rotisserie. Could you occasionally share my fear and shore up my hope?

Doc, Iíve tried to put myself in your shoes, but I canít imagine how, day in and day out, you see humanity at its weakest and still find the strength to help us. Iím just glad that you can. And I know I need much more from you than you need from me, but Iíll do anything to help you help me, if only you can squeeze out a little time to teach me how to be a good cancer patient in addition to everything else that I ask of you.

Neither you nor I can predict the future, Doc, and I donít expect you to do more than is humanly possible. But may I trust you to treat my future as if it were your very own?

Respectfully, Your Patient

Reprinted with permission from Betsy de Parry, author of Adventures in Cancer Land.