With mesothelioma in the headlines, and important recognitions like Mesothelioma Awareness Day, we have witnessed many tributes to mesothelioma warriors who have fought, and continue to fight, this terrible disease. As tributes poured in via social media it encourages us, as healthcare providers, to evaluate how well we are doing.
The one true payoff is when you meet someone with mesothelioma and watch them recover from the treatment and continue to live. The greatest reward is watching someone go out and do the things they enjoy. It made me reflect about a patient I had met who was forty years old and was recovering in a hotel waiting for the “OK” to get back to his southern state. He appeared stable, his wound looked well, his vital signs were stable, and his mood was in good spirits.
When I asked him how he was going to spend his time in Boston, he told me he was taking a bus to a casino. He was showered, clean shaven, happy, and ready for his day out. The story does not end there. I am not sure whether he won or not. When I reported in with his surgeon about his progress and spoke about how he was going to head to the casino, the surgeon’s face lit up like a Christmas tree.
The goal of being the best in the business is great, as you are the person people travel to from far and wide to get the best chance of survival. The truth of the matter though is that while it is great to be offering the latest treatment options, it is even better to see how you have been able to provide the opportunity for people with this rare cancer to live their lives.
As my conversation progressed with the surgeon, it made me think about how while the mesothelioma centers offer the best of the best, what is the patient doing with it? Cleary, living is the greatest thank you that you can give your medical team. A couple of days ago I called a patient to visit and check in on her and her recovery.
Be brave, seek out your best options for treatment, but go live your life to the best of your ability. Don’t let your disease define you, because you can take control.