Whenever the word CANCER is mentioned, it will get immediate attention. When a dentist we know receives this diagnosis, in our minds we know a difficult journey is about to begin. As health care specialist, we know the implications of this diagnosis; but do we know how it will affect the practitioner personally?
A dentist with cancer is just like any other patient who receives this diagnosis, right? Not exactly. In addition to dealing with their own health, a dentist has other concerns that the general public often does not. As a dentist, of course you will be concerned with your own personal survival. In addition, you will have immediate concerns about your practice, patients, and staff. You have formed strong bonds to your practice and want to continue as a leader and provider. To say the least, you also have your own family and children to look out for. The combined pressures of family and practice obligation can be overwhelming.
Whether the perceived obligation to your practice, patients, staff is real or not; you will always have legitimate concerns about how things are going without you. The ties to your practice are strong and no matter how hard you try to ignore them, they are real and need to be acknowledged. Your concerns about your staff and patients can be addressed by your family and friends/peers at first, but eventually you will have decisions to make to protect both.
Cancer doesn’t mean you aren’t a dentist. You are a skilled professional who has encountered an illness, that is all. Fight back and use your knowledge and acquired background to seek out the best care. You are in a better position than the lay public to know what you are up against and use that gift to survive. Take advantage of your medical colleagues and peers to get the best care. Your goal of returning swiftly to practice is reasonable and while you may seem out of control; the decisions you make are ultimately yours. Check out our tens steps to survive.FEAR MAKES THE WOLF BIGGER THAN HE IS-TEN STEPS TO SURVIVE DISABILITY
If you know of a colleague who has been diagnosed with cancer, realize your personal obligation to help. You may be next. Your phone call or hospital visit may make the difference in survival of your friend. Peer support is incredibly strong. Of course there are numerous support groups for many types of cancer, and they really help. We have found that the best support is from another dentist. SEEK OUT YOUR PEERS. They understand your obligations to your patients and staff. They understand the bond you have to your practice and can relate personally to your situation. This is a start on the road to recovery.
You may not be able to practice, but you can contribute. Look to your alternatives and adapt to your situation. Take a look at this TED TALK for some ideas.
We are on your side. WE ARE DENTISTS HELPING DENTISTS. When you are ready use the information we are providing to survive. It only a few suggestions, but its a start.