I often talk with people while they’re receiving chemotherapy. Recently, one woman asked, “How long have you been doing this?”

I knew that she was talking about my work at the center, so I replied that I’ve been visiting with cancer patients for more than ten years. She then asked, “How do you do it?”

She went on, “You deal with cancer every single day. Some patients won’t ever get better. And nearly everyone you talk with must be scared, sick, or both. Doesn’t it depress the hell out of you?”

I’ve been reflecting on this question ever since. Although the question was directed to me, it just as easily could have been directed to the doctors, nurses, radiation therapists, and others who work with cancer patients on a regular basis.

I posed the question to a nurse who responded, “Everyone who begins cancer treatment will have an outcome. Sometimes that outcome is a cure, sometimes it’s not a cure but a longer life, and sometimes the outcome is that the person dies no matter what we do.” She said, “I can’t focus on the outcomes-I focus on the journey. I can make the journey better for people and doing so brings me satisfaction.”

One physician told me she wishes that no one would ever say the words, “There’s nothing we can do.” She said, “There’s always something we can do. We can control pain, we can provide comfort, we can listen.”

A hospital chaplain told me that his job is to be with people when they’re in dark and scary places. It’s not a matter of fixing things. It’s a matter of sharing the experience so that no one is alone.

There’s an underlying theme to all of these comments. Working with people with cancer requires a focus on what you can do, rather than on what you cannot do. That’s why I love this job.

 


Excerpted with permission from When Your Life is Touched By Cancer: Practical Advice and Insights for Patients, Professionals, and Those Who Care by Bob Riter, copyright (c) 2014, Hunter House Inc., Publishers.

Reprinted with Permission of the Ithaca Journal
Original Publication Date: Jan. 11, 2014

 

Click here to see all of Bob’s columns

Share:

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
On Key

Related Posts

From CRC Board of Directors:

It is with profound regret that the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes Board of Directors has been notified that Marilee Murphy will be stepping down as Executive Director

Volunteer Extraordinaire

Congratulations to our fabulous volunteer, Nancy Whitebird, for receiving recognition as a “Partner in Philanthropy” at the 2020 National Philanthropy Day celebration via Zoom on November 13th. Please enjoy Nancy’s recognition video and read more about

Lymphedema Support Group – 12/9

Change of date!  The Lymphedema Support Group will be meeting on Wednesday Dec. 9 at 5:30pm on Zoom.  We will be attending the LANROC (Lymphedema Awareness Network of Rochester) to