Today came off pretty well. I believe the video and my speech will be put on the Medicine X website and YouTube in the next few days. But here is the actual speech. I know yesterday I pointed everyone towards my caringbridge site. I would again encourage you if you haven’t to check out the site. You can click on visit and put in Matt Dudley. You will find my first year of the cancer journey. Thank you to all the kind words afterwards.
Compressing 18 months of writing about a cancer battle and 14 years of medical experience into 5 minutes was to difficult for me. So ask me more later, or read more of my thoughts but here is a brief idea of how I think.
In your most vulnerable moment what do you want people to remember? Everyday we face small challenges and occasionally we find ourselves buried under an avalanche of burden. When you find yourself under the crushing weight of life what is going to be your response? Do you lie there and suffocate or do you try and dig yourself out?
Participation in health care is like the scene of an avalanche. Buried under the information, the carnage, the devastation of disease is a person, a person who needs help. As providers we are the rescue team. Dun a na dun da dah! We are here to save the day! But we must remember there is a person at the bottom. A life with a story of how they got there and dreams of further days. So we start probing to locate and start the dig to help their story continue.
At the bottom of that pile of debris, a patient has a choice. Freak out, struggle, waste energy or, keep calm, take stalk and begin the dig back toward life. The option is there. Check your pulse and realize you won’t do it alone. A team effort above and below is needed.
I am here because under my avalanche diagnosis I thought of all the stories of my life. I started writing them. Via social media my team grew beyond my normal reach. I am alive because an anonymous donor gave me a second chance by joining my dig and donating her stem cells. I am on this stage because a childhood friend of my wife 3000 miles away from us whom I barely know told a client about my Caringbridge site. Those digging to help me back to life came from the reading of my thoughts, my stories. My rescue team grew more robust and sensitive than a excavator run by a surgeon.
Simply put. No one felt my pain. A patients’ pain is individual. But we all suffer together when we know the story. We can all help carry the burden of an illness if we are encouraged to do so. My stem cell donor was encouraged to participate, she did. I encouraged others to help shoulder my burden, they did. In turn they, the medical team, my family, my cyberspot support willed me to keep my head up and my heart strong.
The dig continues! I am not free yet but I can breath again. I know death is inevitable and there will be an avalanche I don’t escape somewhere. Until then I continue to share my thoughts, live my life and keep Enjoying the views. I write my stories now so those who shared my weight know that I am living because of their support and caring.
In medicine and health care we have a choice…Encourage others or be passive? In this age of social media we have a resource which is as greater than any weight thrust upon us. We can find information, we can connect to others with similar struggles, we can tell our stories and live our lives if we choose to participate. As providers we often lump people together to provide prognosis and direct therapy decisions. Yet we must remember each patient is an N of one and that many carry their story and bare their burden. We will all find ourselves at the bottom some day. So if your buried or digging remember the story for it will encourage you to do more than you thought you could on either side.
Head Up, Heart Strong. I need a cure.