On Borrowed Time?

I decided to try something different this evening with my blog post. I am using Dragon Naturally Speaking to post my blog this evening. I have come to the realization that I am much better at speaking than I am at typing: this just might be a better way for me to communicate my thoughts, feelings and emotions as I moved forward with ‘The Purple Jacket.”  So far so good!

Jewish Halo

This past week, The Little One had his appointment with the oncologist. What was amazing about this appointment was that I did not feel the need, nor did I have the time to go to the appointment with him.  Now the ‘Mother Hen’ in me worried all morning about the whereabouts of “The Little One” yet I knew deep down inside me that he could handle the oncologist, handle the drive down to the office and be independent. He did not get to be 81 without some form of independence!

Just as is the primary care doctor was encouraged at his progress, so was the oncologist.  It just so happens that the oncologist and the primary care doctor share the same office space, convenient for sharing information between staff and doctors. The other benefit of this location in that the chemotherapy treatments is on the site, too! This  setup has made easier, not only for “The Little One”, but for all the patients that these physicians see on a regular basis.

The oncologist continued to spread good cheer, good health and well-being for “The Little One.”  As I mentioned in my last blog post, the oncologist had projected three or four months to live after the initial diagnosis and subsequent treatments. While he is pleased to be proven wrong, statistically speaking, the cure rate for esophageal cancer is one of the lowest there is. If we are going solely by the book, then three to four months is correct.

It is understandable why a diagnosis like this would be attached to such a short lifespan. That being said,  we forged ahead mindful of the pitfalls, yet striving for the best possible results. We never want to rule out hope!

I guess what amazes me the most about this visit to the oncologist is not the fact that we all recognize that “The Little One” has far exceeded anyone’s expectations; it’s why is the doctor felt like he has to end a positive visit with the words: ”You know you’re on borrowed time!”

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Granted I was not there for this conversation, and I have no reason to doubt what “The Little One” has told me in regards to this conversation. I am not sure what the purpose of comment like this does for a patient, for the caregiver or for the physician themselves. Throughout this whole ordeal, we have taken a positive approach to dealing with the effects of cancer. We could sulked, we could’ve played the blame game, we could have gone into denial. However, what good would that have done for either one of us? That’s just like saying,”You know we’re on borrowed time.”

I do not claim to be a doctor, I do not claim to be a clinician, but I do think that I understand how a positive outlook and healthy communication can have a soothing and  healing effect on the mind, on the body, and of the spirit when dealing with critical health issues. When you think about it, we are all on borrowed time, yet does a cancer patient really need to be reminded of that?

The healing power of body, mind and spirit plays such an important role in overcoming physical (and mental) illness. To use a sports metaphor, the best defense is usually a good offense. The best way to deal with a diagnosis of cancer is to be as realistic and honest as possible. Our best offense was to plunge full force When I look at this comment from the oncologist in this light, I can understand it. Yet to presuppose a diagnosis without the addition of hope, only leads us to despair. Realty is painful enough, more so without the effects of hope!

Young or Old, Sometimes just being there is enough

Through this experience, I am convinced that one of the key tools in transmitting hope and reality is the ability to be an empathetic communicator. Calmly, empathy transmits hope and reality. I don’t think that there is anymore that we can ask for when dealing with the stark reality of cancer or any other disabling illness.

You seeWe Might Have CancerBut Cancer Does Not Have Us! 


10 thoughts on “On Borrowed Time?

  1. Trish

    I love all the images you include in your posts, Chris. I had to laugh about the “did I just roll my eyes out loud?” I do that way too often! ;-)

    What a great phrase in “empathetic communicator.” I think you’re absolutely right that “empathy transmits hope and reality.”

    What did the little one think of the comment?

    • Avatar of ChrisChris Post author

      Hi, Trish…

      ‘The Little One’ had a classic reponse in regards to the doctor’s comment…”What does he know, he told me that I was not going to live 3 or 4 months, and that was how many months ago?” :) Thanks for the positive feedback on the ‘empathetic communicator’ comment. It is my belief that empathy can go a long way in helping communicate difficult topics between individuals. Empathy helps to build bridges; I think that is a good thing! :)


  2. Avatar of KarenKaren


    I love your posts. I am so happy that “the little one” is doing so well.

    My mother always said: “Man proposes, but God disposes.” After my mother lost her leg, which the doctors said she would not survive, she spent another seven years with us. From the time she lost her leg and through ever other crisis and downturn, she would take a little time to grieve her loss and then she would concentrate on what she could still do and could still enjoy and how lucky she was.

    I get so p.o.’d when I hear doctors make negative, discouraging statements. You are so right about the healing power of mind, body and spirit. I have and still do see so many people who have lived and enjoyed life beyond what their doctors predicted.

    And the best comeback to negative comments is a life well-lived.

    Hooray for both of you!

    • Avatar of ChrisChris Post author

      Hi, Karen…

      I agree with your Mom’s comment 100% “Man proposes, but God disposes.” The Little One has the mind set to forge ahead, why send such a negitive message? Maybe it was good for me not to be at the appointment as the conversation would have taken on a different tone. But I’m with you, the best comeback to a negitive comment is a life well lived!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write, we appreciate it! :)

  3. G-J

    Oh my gosh, what a comment from the doctor! You sure wonder why the doctor said that. We had a doctor say about my husband’s diagnosis that he wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I had so many thoughts at the time: What bad diagnosis would he wish on someone? Why in the world did he just say that? I guess this means he’s compassionate, maybe?

    You wonder if the doctor thought he was saying something positive by saying that! Good grief!

    • Avatar of ChrisChris Post author

      Hi G-J…

      I still scratch my head at his comment, and my guess is that this is not the first time that he has said this to a patient. Otherwise, he has been terrific to work with. Sometimes I think a good dose of senstivitiy training could come in hand! :)

      We appreciate your comments; thanks so much! Chris

  4. Avatar of ejourneysejourneys

    Chris, I love this post (awesome halo!) and I love the spirit you and The Little One have. Doctors may have the medical training, but sometimes in other areas they just don’t have a clue (even those who work at their bedside manner). Some of the most powerful tools humanity has are those we are least able to measure, and all too often doctors can’t see beyond statistics and their patient clipboards.

    I know that Mother Hen feeling. :-) Good for you for going with your gut.

    • Avatar of ChrisChris Post author

      Greetings, ejourneys!

      I remember the day he stood under those lights like it was yesterday and immediately it came to me…Jewish Halo! :)

      It’s good to know that doctors are now taking classes on bedside mannor, non clinical communication etc. For some of them is it long over due. The great work that is preformed by these doc’s are often tranished by saying something so silly like: “Your on borrowed time.” The Litttle One can blow off the comment, but for someone who may not be as strong as him, I’m sure it would be more difficult.

      Nice to know there are more Mother Hen’s out there! :)

      Thanks so much for writting, we really apprecaite it!

  5. Avatar of KathyKathy

    I’m kind of dumbfounded when I hear the professional community say things like that to patients.
    It’s as if they are making sure the patient needs to be made aware of the severity of their illness. Perhaps it’s a way to say, make sure everything is in order. I don’t know. ugh!
    YAY for The Little Ones positive attitude towards the Drs negative one!
    I too am a firm believer that a positive attitude can accomplish and overcome a great many things.

  6. Avatar of DeniseDenise

    Hi Chris–I love the conversation that your post sparked. I guess the doctor wants to set realistic expectations but… It reminds me of how little doctors understand about your day. If they saw what happens during the day, then he would simply say, “Keep doing what you’re doing. Enjoy life.”

    My father’s doctor often says of my dad’s bladder cancer, “In a younger patient, we would remove the bladder.” That always makes me crazy! Our age doesn’t equal quality of life. I wish doctors would simply ask, “How can I help you ensure each day is meaningful for you?”



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