Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Assertive Cancer Patient

Jeanne Sather, author of The Assertive Cancer Patient, is an outspoken advocate for the cancer patient's point of view. She has written about taking part in clinical trials, living withincurable cancer, "pink ribbon" marketing run amok, strategies for getting through cancer treatment, how to help when a friend has cancer, and much more.

Jeanne has also been interviewed by major newspapers on such topics as her firing while in cancer treatment, writing your own obituary, and teaching doctors how to say goodbye to dying patients. Jeanne coined the term "MIA doctors" to refer to doctors, in particular oncologists, who disappear when their patients are dying. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998 at age 43, she started writing about cancer. First she wrote about her own experience, with a weekly feature on the OnHealth Web site called "Jeanne's Diary" that chronicled the ups and downs of her first series of cancer treatments.


September is the anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, and this month is the 10-year anniversary. And while I celebrate this anniversary as a milestone--I've survived 10 years, after all, despite recurrences and metastases to my bones--it is also a difficult anniversary: The weeks following my mammogram were the most difficult of my life. I was afraid. I was angry. And the medical care I received was less than optimal--The attitudes of the doctor, nurses, and other staff who took care of me during this diagnosis period added to my distress, big time. That is one reason I always give priority to people who write to me who are newly diagnosed. I understand what they are feeling, and I want to do whatever I can to help.

Here's what I wrote in "Jeanne's Diary," 10 years ago.

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