Reflecting on Patients Who’ve Faced Breast Cancer

October 25, 2011

Probably because of my gender and life situation, I tend to be particularly affected by young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Part of work-life balance is work-life separation. I’m actually pretty good at leaving 99 percent of my patients at the office. However, there are certain patients - you probably have them too - that follow me from my office to my house (don’t worry - I don’t mean that they literally follow me). I carry them around with me, sometimes for years, worrying about them, thinking about them, grieving with them, sometimes celebrating with them, and praying for them.

Probably because of my gender and life situation, I tend to be particularly affected by young women diagnosed with breast cancer. This diagnosis has affected both friends and family members, so it hits close to home. I accept that these are patients that become more than just patients to me. We are somehow united in our shared identity as woman, wife, mother, sister, and daughter. In honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to take a moment to honor some of the amazing and courageous women I’ve had the privilege to know and care for.

For R who turned her devastating diagnosis into a platform advocating for better care coordination for other patients with breast cancer.

For G who placed her child’s needs before her own even in the midst of getting her diagnosis.

For D who, in her remission, extends a hand to women just starting the journey, serving as a beacon of hope that there will be a day when breast cancer no longer rules their lives.

For J who faced the shock and surprise of diagnosis with courage and resilience.

For N, a nurse, who went right back to caring for others the day after receiving her diagnosis.

For W who offered gratitude to me for finding her cancer.

Amazing women - each of them. Here’s to a day when breast cancer is a bad memory.

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