Inside the Patient Experience—Elizabeth’s Journey #11

Posted by Kristin Baird on June 22nd, 2011 • No Comments »

This is the eleventh entry in my in-depth interview with a patient undergoing cancer treatment.

Hope and harmony play huge roles in the healing process. Elizabeth summarizes her views on the healthcare professional’s role in creating harmony.


It is now [Wednesday] and I had my treatment this morning. Each dose is getting so much harder. I was really taken aback when the nurse who did the infusion referred to the chemo as my “first round.”

It is now [Wednesday] and I had my treatment this morning. Each dose is getting so much harder. I was really taken aback when the nurse who did the infusion referred to the chemo as my “first round.”

I asked, “You mean some people have more than one round?” He quickly looked away without responding. It turns out that people do have second or third rounds of treatment if some cancer remains.

Learning this, I almost fell apart right there. It’s just too much for me to handle right now. I wish he had not told me that when I was already feeling so weak and vulnerable—both physically and emotionally.

I’ve been thinking about the whole concept of “battling” cancer, and why it makes me uneasy to look at health issues from a warrior mindset. I’ve made a paradigm shift in how I think about cancer (and all dis-ease) and I think it could be useful if healthcare professionals could understand and embrace this as well.

I think healthcare professionals are in a unique position to embrace the universal truth that God is Love, and [they] have the ability to nurture a very vulnerable population back to health/harmony. Virtually every kind, considerate, respectful, empathetic, warm, and nurturing word or action on the part of a healthcare professional directs the patient toward harmony, and can serve as a healing agent. When these qualities are absent and the healthcare professional comes across as negative, judgmental, blaming, or makes false assumptions, the professional inadvertently adds to the disharmony (dis-ease).

A heated blanket for cold feet, offering to wash my hair, a warm smile—theses are such little things that can make a huge difference in healing.

At one of my chemo sessions a nurse noted that, after my infusion was complete, I had twice as much fluid in my bladder as the amount of chemo she’d instilled two hours earlier.

“You know,” she chided, “you’re not supposed to drink anything after midnight. It dilutes the chemo agent and you won’t get as much benefit.”

Her tone was clearly critical, as if she were certain she’d caught me breaking the rules. But I hadn’t had a thing to drink. The false accusation stung. I realized that she didn’t know about my peculiar anatomy and the fact that fluid takes an inordinate amount of time to get through my kidneys and into my one remaining, constricted ureter. I didn’t have the energy to explain this, or to even respond at all, for that matter. The faulty assumption combined with a judgmental attitude left me feeling lonely. It would have taken more energy than I had at the moment to explain all this to her, so I didn’t bother.

That kind of judgment is dis-harmonious and can actually contribute to the disharmony that creates dis-ease.

I believe that most healthcare professionals really do want to help. I just wish that more of them understood the spiritual connection between their words and actions, and how they influence healing or disharmony.

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