In my 20 years of practicing medicine, I have seen nothing short of revolutionary advances in cancer treatments. In the midst of the many new technologies and refined medications, one common denominator exists among the success stories. A recent patient of mine pointedly illustrated this key element.
Like many cancer survivors, he had an inspiring story to share. While receiving chemotherapy for metastatic testicular cancer, he suffered from some difficult side effects. His biggest problem was a severe sensation of pins and needles in his hands and feet. Simply walking would bring unbearable pain. He became resolved to discontinue his treatments.
But then, as if by divine intervention, he sat between two special patients. To his left was a man in his seventies with a smile on his face, despite his newly-acquired need for a walker. To his right was an adolescent girl with a doll that would give her advice on how to fight her illness. In fact, the doll even offered advice to my patient.
So, what is the magical gift that cancer survivors have? Resilience. At that moment, my patient knew that if his two new friends could persevere, he could manage to do the same.
When I was driving home from work that day, it was difficult for me to imagine what it’s like to sit in that chemotherapy chair. Needless to say, sitting in traffic didn’t seem to bother me much that day.