I am not your next statistic

Touch me.
I am a real person.
I am not your next statistic. I am not your next appointment,
something to be crossed off a list
once you’ve prescribed your meds and followed your protocol and
check check check
did everything you’re supposed to do when dealing with a breast cancer patient.

Touch me.
I feel different than the breast cancer patient who just left,
different than the one who will sit in this chair when my slot is up.

Follow your protocol
but don’t forget that you are treating people.
Real live human beings.

Were you taught that humans have two ears and two eyes and two legs, a nose, a heart? Have you noticed that that isn’t always the case? Have you noticed that even when check, check, check, we have two ears, eyes, legs, they look different?

Touch me.
And then: See me.
And then: Listen to me.

I am human,
and you, doctor, work for me.

8 thoughts on “I am not your next statistic

  1. Dearest Jenny,
    a long time I’ve heard or talked to you. (Holidays in south of France, taking care of myself:Dr appointments, trying to clean and tidy my house which is a bloody mess, problems and so on…) .But I’m back again.
    First of all let me explain, which I should have done long ago, the name Hyppolite which appears on your blog when I write to you, is a man who helps me with my computer because I am so dumb about it.He became a friend. I very much appreciate him, so don’t worry he is not a voyeur?
    My computer didn’t work and it is thanks to part of his that it does!?
    So, I see you are always brave and sweet. You look beautiful, deeply involved and vulnerable. Your strenght and weakness.
    Tired,is absolutely normal, don’t bother about that!, what you have gone through and what you are facing, makes it quite comprehensible.
    If I may say, it seems beginning July, you appear really too severe with yourself, if you look back only to compare your body or mind, it’s not only to see the defect or progress, it’s also to recover and cherish memories of pleasure. No? Maybe?
    Please don’t compare yourself with what you should be, but feel, see, who you are.
    I loved your random facts. I was so happy to get to know you also as a person with very important different parts, than breast cancer.
    Actually you seem wise, being even able to find wisdom,knowledge and happiness in illness also, and how right you are, this is the secret of survivors and resilients.
    I cannot help giving you a gadget, you sure know about.
    When you feel contracted just breath slowly for a while, and especially expire.
    For me it’s like to find a wider inner space, who leaves place to other feelings, or ables the difficult ones to pass by…
    Lot’s of love Mariejeanne.


    1. Mariejeanne, I have treasured your comments these last months. Yes, you are wise to suggest that I have become too severe with myself. Everything feels unbearably heavy these last weeks, and with that, comes a severity I would very much like to lighten.


    1. No apologies about the English, your words bring deep meaning and understanding. I am impressed that you are able to express yourself so beautifully in a language with which you are not fully versed.


  2. Beloved and precious Daughter,

    Held in the lines of your poem, I can sense the deep and intense feelings you are containing in order to write something of such power. Your words call me to be in touch with the many times I have not lived up to my ideals as a nurse and have failed patients in their moments of need: the times I had someone outraging on the telephone advice line and did not find resolution with them; the times I was “too busy or distracted” to provide care with heart and compassion to the patients who arrived at clinics where I served.

    I regret each of those times and I thank you for calling us to attention, for reminding us that we are all in this together and must work to not fall into acting out illusions of them and us. Your words point to the limitations of a health care system that is deeply dysfunctional and has lost its mandate for caring. It is a system that fails both patients and providers.

    A wise friend recently counseled me to seek out medical providers who not only practice the science but also the art of medicine. As our system dehumanizes not only patients (your poem speaks eloquently to this experience) but also providers, we need remedies to heal the healers. Someone who has true mastery in this arena is Rachel Naomi Remen, MD. Much of her wisdom stems from a lifelong experience as a patient with severe Crohns disease.

    Dr. Remen is a guiding force behind ISHI, the Institute for the Study of Health and Illness; its mandate is remembering the heart of medicine. Many providers -nurses, doctors and others- have participated in this program in their commitment to bring the heart back into their practice.

    Thank you for having the courage and generosity to speak for the multitudes that reside in your words.
    With my love and respect,


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