by Mark Lewis, M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of General Oncology, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
What a time to be alive! Never in history has so much information been at the fingertips of so many. In the developed world, we are privileged to have near-instant electronic access to the accumulated knowledge of humankind, including up-to-the-minute scientific understanding. Concurrent with this ready availability of data, patients have been encouraged and empowered to advocate for themselves by searching for medical content online that is pertinent to their own conditions. However, it is also true that “Dr. Google” does not supplant the significance and rigor of medical training, so there is real value in enabling dialogue within the healthcare community, both broadly and on an individual scale.
by Andrew Griffith
reprinted with permission from MD Anderson
Over the past few years, I have reflected on the terms people use to describe their life with cancer. I initially tried to write a ‘glossary’ of the terms: hero, warrior, fighter, veteran, graduate, survivor, victim or living with cancer.
In trying this out with a few friends, one having gone through a comparable experience, one not, it did not work. People adopt different terms at different stages; a journey approach captures this better than an analytical approach.
Rather than the Kubler-Ross1 five stages (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance), written for the terminally ill, I find the William Bridges framework in Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes more helpful. Bridges talks about three phases: ending (or losing and letting go), the neutral zone (in between, or ambiguous phase), and the new beginning (acceptance and embracing). Circumstances change quickly, transitions take time. This provides a convenient frame for cancer: from ‘normal’ to a new ‘normal’, which we can accept, if not embrace.