Patient Care, Perspectives

Injured


She died on Saturday evening. A wonderful woman; elegant, sophisticated and intriguing. She had battled her cancer; therapy after therapy, always trusting the decisions being made always trying to remain ahead, never giving up or in, never wavering. Her last therapy I recalled had injured her lungs making it hard to continue. I go back to that moment, it’s not easy to know that our therapies have consequences and sometimes the outcomes are not what we want. Damages from our treatment, whether in the short term or the long term, are now playing an important role in our choices of what we treat our patients with. Why bring this up now?

As most of you have realized I have not been blogging for a long period of time. There are many reasons, which I will not divulge, but I will share one. Over time I have been sharing intimate stories with you. Each blog is truly a touching experience for me and hard sometimes to materialize into words. Yet I found myself doing that time and time again. I had not realized that sharing these stories was cathartic to some and injurious to others. Each blog represents a humans experience and journey with me. Such is surgery and chemotherapy, they are painful, often helpful, and not always curative. I found myself revisiting scars and wounds that made up the utter fabric of my existence. It was hard to put a positive spin on things, as often they have sad endings. It was hard to read them after I had written them. So I decided to pause. In this pause I have been reflecting and rethinking, “how am I supposed to write? What reason do I have to write?”

Today I received an email from a patient who had survived her disease. I am quoting it word for word….please take a moment….to read these powerful words.

“Hi Dr. Mo,

I felt the need to write and thank you. After my last visit this past summer we discussed your blog and that day after our appointment I started to read it. As I sat in waiting rooms all day for my appointments I continued to read post after post to pass the time and couldn’t get enough. I signed up to get email alerts when new posts were written and pretty soon it became what I looked forward to each week. Between all the junk mail there would be the notification that a new post was up and that meant that I had a five minute break from the world.

This past fall I have been extremely busy with my job dealing with lots of traveling and deadlines and sometimes the stress tends to pile. No matter how overwhelmed I would be feeling when I started to read one of your blog posts all the things that seemed important disappeared for that short time.

I tend to worry a lot and am a bit of a control freak I’ll admit, but when I was diagnosed with cancer things that I thought were so important no longer compared to having it. That experience gave me a new way of living and seeing life with a new perspective. No one tells you though that if you are lucky enough to win the battle with cancer that eventually that new outlook you have on life tends to fade once things eventually start to go back to normal. There are times when certain things bring me back to that way of thinking when I did have cancer, whether its a movie, a book or examining my scar that I realize some things I worry about just don’t really matter as much as I think they do. Your posts are one of those ways I am brought back to that state of mind and remind me how fragile and short life is and how the things I was worrying about before are nothing compared to other issues in life and what I went through and could have gone through.

When I had cancer I didn’t share my feelings and thoughts that often with friends and family. I just felt no one knew what I was going through and I was trying to keep everything the way it was before. I also felt like I wasn’t worthy enough to talk about it since I had it much easier than lots of other cancer patients. I’ve noticed since then emotionally healing from having cancer has been a lot harder to deal with. Every post of yours I read helped me deal with those issues and heal in some way. Things I had thought about and didn’t know how to put into words were all there. The fact that you were able to cure me physically and even somewhat emotionally is beyond amazing to me. I have no way to tell you how thankful I am other than my words.

Although I know you don’t write as often now and I know you have good reason since you are a busy man I want you to know that not only are you a great doctor who saved my life, but you are a great writer who has helped me heal. “

Thank you my hero, for teaching me that all injuries heal including the deepest wounds. Your words have touched me deeply. That despite the injury that cancer inflicts on us, there are lessons that broaden our minds and deepen our senses to the ongoing conflicts we face in life. Thank you for opening my mind to the reactions and usually not shared. I truly am touched and indebted to your kindness and your words have far more impact that you can possibly imagine.

Mo.

 

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13 thoughts on “Injured

  1. Claire Barnhouse says:

    Mo,
    I am back! I did wonder why you were not blogging, but I always think Mo is a busy man and he’s just taking a break. Boy I was right you were. I was so thrilled to read this blog because it hit home 100%. It was like I was the one who wrote that letter to you!
    We need a doctor like you Mo, serious but funny, and so consumed by your patients and there needs and you are so down to earth with us. I use to hate going to doctors but you have changed that for me Mo, now I look forward to our visits.
    Don’t ever stop writing, you have a gift and that gift is giving us joy and hope in you and in your blogs Mo!
    As always my hat goes off to you Mo my amazing doctor of science!
    Claire (your #1 fan)

  2. Susan Steel says:

    As a 10yr Stage 4 melanoma survivor, the docs I admire most are the ones who impressed upon me to buck up because this was a marathon not a sprint. Well I’ve come to realize that advice applies equally for the melanoma medical teams as well as the patients. So after we catch our breath, mourn our losses, survive the brain surgery…our only true choice is to lace up the cleats & get back on the field.

  3. Sheila Bielema VenHuizen says:

    Dear Dr. Mo,
    As it has only been 3 months since dad has passed, I was new to your page and wasn’t sure how often you posted on your page but I can tell you I looked for your posts every day!! You were and always will be considered our friend!! You and your “kids” and complete staff will ALWAYS have a very special place in our hearts!! Looking forward to reading your posts!!! Never forget how special you are and how many lives you have and continue to touch!!! 💕 With our love and prayers ~ 💞🙏 The family of Harold Bielema 💞🙏~

  4. Linda Atterberg says:

    Hi Mo. I, too, was very happy to see your blog entry yesterday and had worried a bit about you in the interim. I can only imagine how hard it must be to write some of the stories… I can tell you that, for me, they are sometimes hard to read. But every one of them has meant something to me and touched me in some way. We’re still in the midst of my husband’s battle and things are so scary, but everything about you helps me. Your presence when we see you, your words, spoken and written, always sustain, and I sincerely hope you will continue to write when you can.

  5. Barbara Koch says:

    Dear Dr. Mo, Just a few minutes ago I opened my I pad to check my mail after a busy day. Seeing your blog was a great joy! You see, over the past couple of months, I have missed your blog….and from time to time, I have even worried if everything was OK with you. And rather than send you a quick note to say hello, I harbored those concerns. I know better, because you have always stressed the importance of communication…and…”to stay out of trouble.” Actually, it was by reading one of your blogs that I was able to finally understand the meaning behind your “signature” parting comment. So, yes, your blogs have been very meaningful to me. (My mother loves them, too!) The stories always seem to illustrate the point that within adversity lives the hope for greater self awareness, increased sensitivity and compassion, and spiritual healing. I want to affirm you for your blogs, but also want to encourage you to do those activities that feed your spirit….and so maybe you take breaks from the blog. And that will be enough.

    Take good care, Dr. Mo, and see you in February! Barbara Koch Sent from my iPad

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  6. Trudey Nekola says:

    Mo- Please do not give up writing your inspiring words help me cope with the loss of my sister and my mother. You cared for my sister and our whole family to this day think highly of you. Even tho when my mom was in hospital with a different type of cancer you took time out of your day to come visit is.. That there shows us that we are not just a number you have grown to be apart of our family during all the fight and struggle my sister and mom went thru. Thank you for being you and being the best doctor, especially when others gave up on her! You gave my sister extra years!!!! You are our hero!!

  7. Welcome back. I’ve missed your posts. None of us maneuver the cancer trail perfectly. Sometimes we hurt people we care about – that is just part of the human condition. As a sarcoma survivor it just so happens that I have an excellent doctor in you and am so grateful you are willing to share your blogs with us. I hope we continue to hear from you.

  8. Mo, don’t give up on writing. It’s fine to take breaks. Re-focus. She is correct thou AFTER awhile you do tend to forget and go back to “normal”, until something reminds you of it or a feeling. I am a melanoma survivor ,it is 9 years. I look forward to your next post , whenever that may be.

  9. James R Wagner says:

    I am so so very elated that you have written your post. I truly missed the posts and believe or not I did learn a lot and they helped me both emotional and educational . Thank you for being a great doctor but most important a wonderful human being doing an impossible dedication to oncology. Nance Wagner

    Sent from my iPad

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  10. My mother too lost her battle with cancer after putting up up a good fight and dying with dignity despite what she’d gone through. Even though I’ve been a nurse since 1981 and knew what to expect, it was a rollercoaster of emotions and your blogs help me put some of that in context. It’s been over 3 yrs since mom left us but what you and your colleagues do is nothing short of amazing. I realize not everyone is cured but some are and that gives hope to others. Without hope, how could the patient and those that love them go on? I look forward to your blogs and forward them to friends who are dealing with cancer in their family. I’m sure it’s hard for you to pour out your heart but it is cathartic for many and I hope it’s cathartic for you too.

  11. Dr. Mo, you cared for my sister XXXXX XXXXXX. We are so lucky for the love and care you gave my sister and her family–even when a room full of us showed up for some of her appointments! The words in your blog after my sister’s passing, when my brother-in-law and niece met with you for the last time, were so important to my family. We have all printed out that blog and it is very special, especially to my 90-year-old mom, to know you cared so much. Thank you for everything you have done for us. Mary could not have had a better doctor. Please continue writing if you can.

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