Have a Story to Tell? Had a medical error?

This blog is about patient safety, medical malpractice, staying healthy, and preventing future errors. Help & empower someone else, Teach a lesson, Bear witness, Build our community - Email us or call 781-444-5525.

Frustrated with a health problem?

Need an ally in your health crisis? Call 781-444-5525, or learn more.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cancer is not a football game: Teddy Kennedy's brain cancer

The mantra of "fighting" cancer drives me nuts. The caring behind it is wonderful; the metaphor is not. Cancer is not a football game. The fighting metaphor is insidious because it implies that if you fight, you can "win." And if you don't fight hard enough, you are therefore a "loser."

The challenge for Teddy Kennedy, just diagnosed with brain cancer, is to figure out where the locus of our limited control lies. He can't change the fact of his diagnosis. But he can, and already has, chosen his doctors wisely. He is putting his resources now, appropriately, into learning about his cancer, what drives it, and what might slow it down. He may have to choose additional doctors, anywhere in the world. That's great. That's the stuff that really is under his control. As is choosing how to spend his time and energy. He is already doing all the right things.

So, I would change the mantra to "Breathe, Ted, breathe." Sail your boat. Kiss your wife and your kids. Trust your doctors. Keep doing the work you love.

Advice to cancer patients: Focus, like Teddy, on what is within your control.

Read last week’s post on Teddy.

Thanks to Judy Foreman for the source article in the May 27 issue of the Boston Globe.

No comments: