This morning I talked with a caregiver whose father has agreed to be treated with an experimental chemotherapy in an attempt to halt the rapid progression of the cancer that has challenged him for months. I commented to the caregiver that I believe his dad is courageous in agreeing to be treated with the new therapy, especially in consideration of the possible side effects of the treatment.
The son responded that his father is feeling anything but courageous. “Truthfully, Dad is concerned about any possible side effects from further cancer treatment.”
Who among us has not felt this way, even if just for a moment, when considering the pros and cons of established medical treatment, let alone, new medical therapies?
On one hand, we patients are optimistic that a new treatment will arrest and possibly eradicate our disease. On the other hand, as educated patient/consumers we read the “fine print”, hear rumors of what might possibly go wrong, and perhaps increase the suffering that we are attempting to prevent.
Virtually everyone living today, who has ever been treated through modern medicine, has benefited since our mother’s pre natal care, from what were initially experimental treatments. These treatments have been refined and improved through the centuries.
Anesthesia, pain management, infection prevention, vaccination, diagnostic tests, etc, have all been developed through experimentation. Therapies that initially are tested with laboratory animals, eventually move ahead to human testing, if they are deemed worthwhile.
Since we have all benefited from tests that were conducted on patients before us, we may consider it to be part of the human responsibility to also participate in new tests, if we are inclined to do so.
We ask ourselves, “Do the risks outweigh the benefits?” “Do I have other choices?” “What are the consequences of me accepting this therapy, or not accepting it?” Sometimes we feel we are caught between a “rock and a hard place” especially when our options are limited.
How much does our perspective affect the way we consider the risks and benefits of new therapies? Do we see ourselves as “guinea pigs”, as helpless laboratory animals, or as pioneers dedicating our bodies to science? Are Appendix cancer patients gamblers, taking a chance with a roll of the dice, so to speak?
Or,are we warriors, attempting another stand, risking possible defeat, or the bounty of improved health?
For those of us who have experienced years of medical treatments, surgeries, chemotherapies and the gamut of diagnostic tests, whether we realize it or not, we have contributed to the teaching of countless young physicians, nurses, researchers and medical technicians who have observed and treated our medical cases, both with “conventional” methods and new therapies.
Yes, our bodies, are tested and used to educate healthcare professionals. In turn, the knowledge gained from our surgeries, and our medical care in general, is used to create medical therapies to aid patients in the future.
Just as we have benefited, and our lives have been extended from the contributions of patients that were treated before us, so will future patients benefit from the medical care we receive today!
Copyright 2011(c) by Gabriella Graham/PMP Pals’ Network/All Rights Reserved.
To learn more about Appendix Cancer and Pseudomyxoma Peritonei, visit us on the web at www.pmppals.org