Cancer has been normalized by society as a terminal disease, one that leaves little hope for recovery. Recovery is termed "survivorship" and the adopted identity of "cancer survivor" becomes a badge that defines the end of the battle. Meanwhile, the energy of cancer alongside fear hangs in the rafters, waiting. Fear is intricately linked with "survivorship." It lies huddled in the background, surfacing with the slightest symptom. Fear ultimately causes chronic stress. The immune system feels its cold claws, as they scrape even lightly upon the psyche and imagination.
Creating a new framework to support patients with cancer has the potential to change its face and its course. The negative thought forms where fear and death are kept at bay, can be transmuted into opportunities for seeking the growth and healing this diagnosis evokes. Such an approach has the potential to change its course and significantly improve its outcomes. I believe this is truly possible but will take an effort on all our parts to reframe what we accept. Our greatest effort will be to embody the awareness that is required to shift the traction from fear that has been normalized that ultimately predicts and defines the course of cancer or any illness.
Medicine is at a crossroads, a gateway, where it needs to transform into a system that offers more love, and hope, and where exploration and education are honored as core values. As a practicing physician, I have carried this framework alongside my expertise and have learned to love deeply and widely along the way. I have felt my heart expand and my wisdom grow, but most of all, I have grown to honor the sacred contract with my patients and their loved ones, who have chosen me as their companion, and walk with them through sickness into health and often into a transformed life. For this, I am profoundly humbled and deeply grateful.
And regarding the couple in the café, in that moment of witnessing their love, my heart leapt towards them with a loving and supportive embrace as they left to continue their courageous journey through the hills and valleys ahead. Their very presence was a gift and an inspiration to me as a physician and a person who feels deeply. Even though they may never read this article or know how deeply they touched my heart, somewhere in the tapestry of the Universe that weaves us all together, I hope they do. I want them to know that their love, kindness, and courage was witnessed, and deepened many around them in more ways than they could have imagined.