Before I begin to rant, I must first acknowledge how very lucky I’ve been and how grateful I feel to be a beneficiary of first-rate melanoma treatment. Walking around, still above ground, healthy and in remission seven years out of a clinical trial-- recently described in my cancer center’s newsletter as being a “vicious” regimen that oftentimes doesn’t work-- most certainly amounts to beating the odds by a wide margin. When I began that regimen in the fall of 2003 I don’t think anyone involved, certainly not me, would’ve predicted I’d still be around to be bloggin’ away in 2010.
Nevertheless, I’ve been finding my recent six-month checkups to be mildly embarrassing and disconcerting experiences. It has been a great advantage to receive treatment and care in a teaching hospital setting. And it is very good to be an “interesting” patient for physicians and nurses-in-training because I’m apparently now one of the clinic’s success stories. This is so, so much more pleasant than being an interesting patient because you’re very sick and in deep trouble-- been there, done that. Still, it feels just a little bit strange to be the nearly naked subject of a “show and tell” teaching opportunity where the unspoken but clear message to the student tagging along for the day is “see, not all of our patients die and die soon after coming to us”. And deserving little or no credit for being a success story, it feels just a little bit embarrassing to be treated as some sort of heroic or celebrity patient. But for the grace of God, state-of-the art oncology, and perhaps a healthy helping of random good luck, I’d be dead by now. So, sometimes I think I’d prefer it if the clinic folks would just look me over, tell me I’m still doing fine, and quickly hustle me out the door until next time.
Am I wrong to feel this way?