[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!