Her text arrived on a Saturday evening. Can we talk for a moment – please?
D’s my coaching client, and she was scheduled to begin radiation for a painful node in her neck right after the weekend.
If she was calling between her regularly scheduled sessions, I knew it was urgent. I dialed her number.
“I was in the doctor’s waiting room yesterday, and a lady there said she’d never do radiation because it does terrible things to your body. Should I go for my radiation appointment?”
The fear in her voice tugged at my heart.
D has had several courses of treatment for lung cancer. She had recently been offered a new course of chemotherapy, as well as radiation for the painful node. Just days before we’d gone over her questions about her treatment options, and she’d settled on a plan she was comfortable with.
But the woman in the waiting room had derailed her confidence.
D knew the pros and cons of radiation. But she also knew her pain wasn’t responding to painkillers, and those painkillers were producing side effects that were becoming intolerable. She knew the ongoing pain plus medication side effects would make her upcoming chemo harder to get through.
The woman in the waiting room knew none of this. Yet her words sucked D into fear and confusion, because somewhere deep down she believed that woman might know better than she did.
I never tell my clients whether or not to undergo a recommended course of treatment. My job is to help them see all their options – including some their oncologist may not have mentioned – and sort out which options most closely match their values and preferences. Too often people are herded into treatment without a chance to consider all their options. I never want my clients to feel herded. I want them to feel heard.
And what I know for sure is that each brilliant being I work with has the inner wisdom to decide for herself.
I was fortunate to be mentored in medical school by a doctor who taught me this: the best treatment is one the doctor feels comfortable offering and the patient feels comfortable receiving.
I love that, because it constantly reminds me that what the patient wants counts. It actually makes a difference to the success of the treatment.
So that evening I helped D reconnect with her wise inner voice. She got clear again about what she wanted, and why. The lady in the waiting room may have been speaking her own truth. But that didn’t matter, because it didn’t match D’s brilliant inner guidance.
This story isn’t meant to offer medical advice. In D’s position you might make a very different decision, and that’s OK. Get informed, then make the choice that makes the most sense to you. Because one of the gifts cancer can offer is the knowledge that what you want matters as much as what anyone else wants for you.
I’d love to hear what you have to say:
- Did you feel you had time to consider your choices before you started treatment?
- Were your questions about treatment heard and honored with thorough and respectful answers?
- Have you ever disagreed with the treatment that was recommended for you? How did you respond?
Honoring your inner brilliance-