The ripple effect

As I’ve mentioned before, we want to hear not just from cancer patients, but from other people who connect to the cancer experience. I have talked about caregivers, volunteers, doctors and nurses, but many more people have associations with cancer.

When I was undergoing my stem cell transplant, there would be a series of people who would come in to clean the room and bring me my meals (such as they were). I often wondered what it would be like to go from room to room seeing all sorts of quickly thinning and pale people attached to IV machines and losing their hair. How did they look upon the anxiety and sometimes suffering that was surely upon most of our faces?

Some that came were very quiet and did their work. Others gave me smiles and words of encouragement which touched me very much more than the dutiful clergy that came by to bring me good cheer. What did they think when they went home at night? Did they feel themselves lucky? Did they worry about us? What kind of private griefs of their own occupied their minds and made our sufferings seem insignificant? Or were they just thinking about what to make for dinner or the latest hockey game? I would like to know?

There are many others in the complex web of support that underlies the health care system who interact with patients, but are not specifically health care providers. Aside from maintenance workers and orderlies, there is the reception staff, food service staff, and morgue staff. There are the blood lab technicians, diagnostic testing technicians, pharmacy staff, and gift shop staff.

We want to hear many voices in this book and our challenge is how to reach these groups. Many of these jobs do not have online support, communication or educational networks. If you have ideas, please let us know!


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