Ok, so you know how I hired Vocus recently to help me get the word out on the book…well, they have this cool tool that sifts through all of Twitter-dom to find people talking about subjects that relate to you and then suggest ways to interact or use their posting to inspire you to write about certain topics worth discussing. I know they say you should blog at least once a week, but if I don’t have something to say. Today, I have something to say and ask.
I came across a tweet/article (and several re-tweets of it) the other day that I can’t seem to shake off and at this point I may be just a dog with a chewed up old bone on this, but I found this one so frustrating and a bit disturbing that I felt compelled to reach out to you all for a little reality check. I mean, who’s zooming whom here? Am I kidding myself in my expectations to live a long and healthy (ish) life after stage IV colon cancer? Am I an anomaly by doing so or does this article posted on KevinMD, quoting (sort of) the New England Journal of Medicine project a false sense of futility when it stated “Metastatic (stage IV) colon cancer and lung cancer are fatal incurable illnesses. That doesn’t just mean they are life-threatening. A fatal incurable illness is one which has zero survivors. You don’t know anyone who had metastatic colon or lung cancer who survived and is no longer ill.” The article is actually focused on the question of doctors giving their patients false hope in order obtain better patient ratings (which is a valid thing to question), but I found it really difficult to get past the first paragraph.
“Zero survivors…”. Does this mean I’m dead and I just don’t know it? I’m just asking because it’s been about a year now that I’ve been in remission from stage IV colon cancer (that spread to my left lung)…
True, I expect the possibility of a recurrence and even have a plan of action in place if/when it happens and yes, I do have certain limitations brought on from the side effects of treatment, but this guy is saying I have a “zero” chance of surviving, and he’s a bonafide MD, so he should know better than I, right? It is well documented that there are many (and more growing by the year) stage IV cancer survivors, but this statement begs the question; are there any other stage IV colon survivors or stage IV lung cancer survivors out there?
When I protested with a proclamation of my being alive and well (see comments posted at the article on KevinMD) he didn’t necessarily concede, but told told me my beef wasn’t with him because he was merely quoting the New England Journal of medicine and then I got what felt like that little pat on the head we give overly imaginative children, “Yes, I think you’ll make a fine President of the Universe kiddo.”
Which brings me to my next question; “If you quote a false statement to make a point, are you accountable for rescinding the quote or amending the statement once its inaccuracy been brought to your attention?” I think about how many people are out there with stage IV cancer, searching for answers and hope, who come across articles like this. I wonder if my oncologist had this belief, that I had “zero” chance of survival, would I be here today or would I have said “screw it’ to all the procedures, the 3 rounds of chemo and all the side effects that go with it? As I’m writing this I’m thinking about my recent and first trip ever to the Amalfi coast of Italy, swimming in the ocean, the charming men, the to-die-for (no pun intended) food and wine, then I think of The C Card and Me, how it came about and how many people have told me how it inspired them to be less afraid of cancer and more determined to fight it…then I think about how damaging the statement “zero survivors” is to the human psyche and I have my answer, “Never give up, Never surrender!”
I am sending out this signal to find out. If you are in remission and still kicking about after facing stage IV lung or colon cancer, please go to this posting and comment as I have to further dispel this (what I believe and hope to be) outdated statement. If you want to comment here too that’s cool, but dispelling at the source, the article itself is most effective since it is being forwarded and RT’d around.
Kevin MD – Dr. Fuchs Article – Do patients bond best with Dr’s who misinform them with optimism.
And when you’re done, feel free to click on the link to the article he refers to from the New England Journal. They don’t allow comments on their postings, but there is an email address at the bottom where I’m sure all corrections would be welcomed: Dr. Weeks at the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute. After all, these are experts in the field of medicine. They understand that when we see the title “MD” after their names that we rely on (as they intend) their words being factual and conclusive. After I post this, I’ll be sending her an email and will report back any responses.