anthologies

The Patient’s Voice: Experiences of Illness

JEANINNE YOUNG-MASON, EDITOR
F.A.DAVIS COMPANY, PHILADELPHIA, PA, 1997

BOOK DESCRIPTION

The Patient’s Voice presents sixteen contemporary autobiographical narratives written by children and adults who have experienced psychiatric and physical illnesses. These narratives offer a powerful insight into patients’ experiences with illness. The book is intended for students in nursing, medicine, and allied health professions. The accounts, written expressly for this book, emphasize the implications of illness and spiritual distress as well as the authors’ views of compassionate care. My contribution to this book centers on the story of my journey through cancer.


EXCERPT
From God, Self, and Medicine

Sharing pain is the only way to stay alive. For the net of love helps absorb and distribute the struggle. It’s taught me that if we share pain, which is a lot to ask, there is no room for pity. For the sharing of the struggle requires an investment, a real life-changing investment by those who care, an involvement that will instigate their own tandem suffering…

In truth, having cancer has unraveled the way I see the world. It has scoured my lens of perception, landing me in a deeper sense of living. Though my story is framed around a particular crisis, cancer, I believe that crisis of the deepest kind somehow raises a common instinct to survive and with that a common set of tools—such as risk, trust, compassion, and surrender—becomes available to all. Coming this far, it seems clear that being a survivor is embracing the will to live, and whether that embrace lasts for years or months or days or even hours, whoever embraces life is a survivor…

Being human, we are each the crucible, the ever-changing inlet through which the greater Whole in all its forms ebbs and flows. Indeed, every time the Universe, through Nature or God, flows through us, we are rinsed larger, cleansed and charged yet again. What is medicine, if not the laws of nature applied to cleanse the self? And what is God, if not the laws of spirit applied to enlarge the self? It implies that to enlarge is cleansing; to grow, healing. Thus, to talk about the art of healing is to investigate the various ways, both natural and spiritual, that the Whole, if taken in, can preserve the part…

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