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20 July 2013 1,895 views No Comment

Ten years ago I was being treated for Prostate Cancer. I had external radiation therapy for five weeks, followed by a radioactive seed implant operation. My anger at one of my physicians led to my blowing off steam with the following poem:

Compassion 101
Do Doctors take Compassion 101?
Are they taught how to treat us with kindness?
Can Considerate Cancer Care be instilled from without?
Compassion must come from somewhere, but where?

If Doctors do take Compassion 101
Do they get marks from the teacher?
Are there A students and B students?
And what about the dunce of the class?

Three doctors knew my prostate well,
One said, “Call me at any time!”
The second said, “Daytime or nighttime!”
The third said, “Do you realize how many patients I would have to call?”

Should I feel lucky to have had two doctors with A’s and only one with an F?

I realize now, after years have passed, how shortsighted I was. My targeted anger was much too narrow, focusing only on physicians. There are other players in the Health Game that require equal scrutiny. Yes, Doctors are key players in the treatment and recovery phase, but only part of the total picture.
Since Marion’s spine operation on June7th she has been in a Hospital, a rehab facility, and is currently in a 12 week physical therapy program, During that time she has had to depend on the care of many, many health care providers- Doctors, Physician’s Assistants, nurses, aides, physical therapists, nutritionists, speech therapists, case workers, food servers, cleaning staff- a long, long list of people that all have an impact on her recovery. Every person that touches Marion’s life during this ordeal is important.
Janitors? Yes, even those that clean the rooms. One day this nice person asks whether she’ll disturb Marion, she can always come back. And, is there anything Marion needs while she’s there? The next day, different cleaner comes in, cleans the room thoroughly, but noisily, ignoring entirely that Marion is obviously trying to sleep, and just as obviously in pain.
One of the defining, standout characteristics I find in great healthcare providers is Compassion. Plain and simple, the great ones care about the patient as well as the medical condition, and demonstrate that concern quietly and wholeheartedly.

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