Friday, September 7, 2007

Anger and Unfairness

Many of my friends and family have said they’re angry that I have cancer again. They say it’s not fair. I’m not sure why, but I don’t feel any anger or unfairness.

I’ve been told I should be angry with my gynecologist who misdiagnosed me for five months while the cancer spread. I’m told I should be angry at my surgeon who didn’t do the proper test to see how aggressive my cancer was and then let us go off on holiday for two weeks while the cancer spread. I’m told I should be angry with the surgeon who left a trail of cancer cells behind while doing the biopsy, thereby giving me skin cancer. I’m told I should be angry at the surgeon who drained fluid from my chest and hit some blood vessels, causing internal bleeding that required additional surgery and a delay in my radiation therapy. I’m told I should be angry at all my doctors for not treating my cancer properly the first time around so that it came back less than a year after my treatment was finished.

But I really don’t feel angry with any of my doctors. They’re all human and they made mistakes. These mistakes may have cost me many years of life, but I can’t say I wouldn’t have made the same mistakes if I had been in their positions. I’ve always thought that to be the best gauge of any behavior – putting myself in their place. If I had made those mistakes, would I want my patient to be consumed with anger at me and blame me for their situation? Of course not. I’ve since gone back to some of my doctors to tell them I don’t hold this against them. A few have apologized and told me how bad they felt about what’s happened. Then I ended up trying to make THEM feel better. They’ve learned something, and they won’t make the same mistakes again with future patients. That’s enough for me.

The only time I’ve felt angry during this whole cancer experience was when doctors, nurses, or technicians were unprofessional, uncaring or rude to me. And now that I think of it, I’m not even angry with them, just exasperated that they haven’t been trained properly to treat patients with sensitivity.

Anyway… back to the anger. Why am I not angry? Normally, I get angry quite easily. I get angry with drivers who park their cars illegally outside our condo, blocking the view and making it very dangerous for cars going in and out. I called the Traffic Police two days in a row to yell at them for not doing anything about it. Why am I angry about cars blocking traffic and not about my cancer? I think it’s because I’m angry at intent. I’m angry about inconsiderate, selfish people endangering the lives of others. But who’s being inconsiderate or malicious in my cancer story? Nobody, really. So what’s to get angry about?

And as for the “it’s not fair”, “why me” feeling some cancer patients have… I just don’t feel that either. Of course it’s not fair. If cancer were fair, Osama Bin Laden would drop dead from cancer, and so would all the murderers, rapists, and child abusers around the world. And why NOT me? Does anyone ever get cancer and people say, “Yeah, it figures. She deserves it”? Hmmm… maybe some of those illegally parked drivers I reported to the Traffic Police this morning would say that about me.

1 comment:

Tony said...

Well, I'm angry. I understand what you say about intent being important in triggering anger. But there is another kind of anger that I get from an unjust result after I've put a lot of effort into something. Like I would get mad when I studied very hard for a big test but then got a bad result due to bad luck or unfortunate mistakes.

I saw you do everything possible to improve your odds. Your diet was very difficult to stay with and you did it without complaining. You went through every medical procedure to improve your odds.

Its just not fair that it has come back so aggressively, and it pisses me off.