May 29, 2007

Wondering out loud

Today I received an email that reconfirms what my original purpose was in creating this blog. I am thankful that it is a source of information, as well as support to those afflicted with prostate cancer. It is making a difference, and in this case it is impacting someone half-way across the globe.

I received an email this weekend from someone in New Zealand. It is amazing that although there is a great physical distance between us, we have much in common. This person received a similar diagnosis as I initially did, but what struck me was that this person was given a time line. '....hope to last longer than the 6 months the doctor gave....'.

I imagine that as a doctor, when a patient asks 'how long?', that there is some sense of obligation to respond with an answer. What I don't understand is where do the estimates come from? Is there some medical matrix where the variables are calculated, including a reference to the age of the patient, age, diagnosis stage, etc.? Where or how would such a matrix account for one's mental situation? Physical condition? Ability and desire to beat the cancer? Once again, I so respect my urologist. The day Mary and I sat in his office and he explained to us that I had Stage 4 cancer and that there was no cure, he never provided a timeline. He clearly explained the recommended treatment strategy, (hormone deprivation therapy), outlined the potential side-effects and encouraged us to pursue lifestyle changes (diet, exercise) that would additionally get the cancer under control. He told us that he could give us a timeline but didn't want to, because frankly, he believed we had the right attitude and determination to beat the odds. Although he could not offer a cure, he was ready to help us fight this disease and manage it into old age. As frightened as Mary and I were on that day, we felt his support and most importantly, we felt that there was hope!

I repeatedly read that with a cancer diagnosis, 'no two situations are the same', then why offer a diagnosis or guide one patient based exclusively on statistics of others?

The intention of this post is not to offend anyone in the medical community. I am sincerely thankful for the wonderful, skilled medical professionals who dedicate their careers to help others in need, especially those helping those of us with advanced prostate cancer! I'm just a guy, a guy wondering out loud.

[leg update: sleeping better, back to work, no pain pills since Thursday!]

1 comment:

Tom T. said...

Hi David.. You know Ive wondered about it too. And sometimes maybe the Dr. needs to "prepare" someone who doesnt want to face a reality. I know that was true with my mom. I believe in your case it would have been a waste of breath to have given you a time-line as that would have been like waving the "Red Flag in front of the bull", JUST to prove him wrong, and maybe hurt yourself in the process. You are a fighter, anyone can see that, so why bother with a SWAG. YOU are the exceptions to all the "normal" rules.
You go Hero!