Wednesday, January 21, 2015

[please excuse me while I spill my heart out for a second…]

As I said in my last post, I am currently on my surgery rotation. It has been a huge learning experience, and for that I am grateful! One thing that has been exceptionally hard is dealing with the big, ugly C word: cancer. In just one clinic day my overseeing physician and I had to tell FOUR people they had colon cancer. And one man was only 37. That is unheard of! Then a few days later we did 5 mastectomies on women fighting breast cancer.

I had never been part of a team to deliver this kind of news until recently. How can you walk into a room and tell someone their life will never be the same, read them statistics about survival rates, give them treatment options based on their cancer stage, then go about your day as if nothing has happened? I am too emotional for this! My doctor explained to me that this part of medicine is an art, and it takes time and experience before you can separate yourself from the emotional aspect of it.

As I watched a 43 year old woman enter our operating room, knowing that she would soon be undergoing a double mastectomy, I couldn't help but get a little choked up. Breast cancer hits close to home. I wanted to sit down with this lady and tell her I was praying for her and that she wouldn't be alone during surgery, but knowing that I was now part of the "surgery team" I just laid my hand on her shoulder and told her that we would take very good care of her. To surgeons she was just another slot in a packed schedule that day. To me, she was a person full of fear, questions, and anxiety.

I hope that with experience I can learn to deliver bad news with grace and compassion but I also hope that I never get so caught up in medicine that I forget that patients are people with the same feelings that I experience. I pray that I never lose my emotion when treating patients, because emotion means that I am relating to my patients.

Moral of the story: I am going to be an emotional wreck when I start my pediatrics rotation!


  1. I love this post.... as someone who has spent a great deal of time in hospitals caring for people, it's always nice when people remember that visitors are people with feelings... just like you said. I remember when a nurse came up to me (as I was having an anxiety attack from all the obnoxious family in the room) and said, "Family's like fish. You need to throw them out after three days." It was such a light comment, but I definitely laughed and felt loads better. I love that you're aware of that... even going in. ;)

  2. That's some tough stuff right there! When I was in the ER, we had to tell a bunch of girls they lost their babies and that was sad enough. But everything will get better with time but that's also the great thing about us PAs, we have lots of compassion and care about the patient- not just getting in as many surgeries as we can. And do you have inpatient or outpatient peds?

    1. Ugh I'm going to get so attached to my peds patients I bet. Hopefully I will get better about realizing it's "work" yet still being able to care for them fully!

  3. You will do great for this reason alone. I will be honest, it's not the same, but I am fighting perspective too. It's one of the biggest pulls I felt to my new career. It has been so emotional but I never want to forget what it feels like to care. I've been told in one week that I can't save them all. Fine. But that doesn't stop me from trying, damn it.


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