Dear Doctor / Oncologist:
I need you to acknowledge my support system sitting here with me, but I need you to fully understand that you are not here for them.
Because I want to know how we’re going to beat this thing. Don’t tell me how quickly you think I’m going to die or about all the stats that say I shouldn’t be alive. I am a statistic of ONE. Say it with me: ONE. You don’t know when I’m going to die and neither do I. The only person that can possibly know that is the man above, so let’s keep those thoughts to yourself.
Give me words I can hold onto when I need hope and faith and fight. Because I am a fighter. Your sad eyes won’t lessen the fight in my genes. But they will momentarily distract me, and I don’t have time for silly distractions.
Talk to me like we’re in this together. Show me that your confidence in my ability to fight this will never waver. Show me that you’ve got this. We’ve got this.
I’m not asking for denial. I’m asking for determination. I’m asking you to deliver the facts in the most let’s-kick-its-ass-together way possible.
OK, now let’s talk about how I need you to support my loved ones. Everyone is different, but because I want to know as much about what’s on the horizon as possible, I could really use a heads-up on what will most affect my loved ones.
Don’t protect me from the inevitable: chemo means hair loss; “debulking” surgery is a foray into the unknown but I will wake up in post-surgical menopause. I need to know this stuff.
I need your honesty. Let’s talk about the side effects of treatments, from short- and long-term perspectives. What will happen to my body during the treatment, in the 24 hours afterwards and in the 24 years after that?
Don’t tell me I shouldn’t focus on a future I’m unlikely to have if I don’t fight now. I have to. Planning for my future is what keeps me going through this hell. And I will keep going. You don’t know if I’m going to die from cancer. I could leave the hospital and die in a car crash, so I don’t need to worry about something that hasn’t happened yet.
Teach me what I can do for myself after the treatments are over. Is there anything special I can do with my diet to help with side effects from treatment or to help keep the cancer away? What type of integrative medicine or care can I invest in to help keep my cancer at bay?
Now. What’s next?