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When an oncology nurse is diagnosed with cancer, she has to confront the most critical, terrified, angry patient she’s ever encountered: herself.
In short, spare chapters, bestselling author Theresa Brown tells a poignant, powerful, and intensely personal story about breast cancer. She brings us along with her, beginning with the mammogram that would change her life, then through her diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Knowing how hard she worked to bring empathy to her nursing, she finds herself repeatedly surprised by the lack of compassion in the medical maze she finds herself in, something so many other patients have experienced. She wonders why she is expected to wait over a long weekend to hear if she actually has cancer. She’s hurt when doctors and administrators are self-absorbed and insensitive. She wants clear explanations of procedures and the course of treatment, but rarely gets them. She’s dismayed at feeling like a widget on the health care assembly line, but fears being the “difficult” patient who ends up getting worse care because she complained.
Interspersed are pointed looks back at some of her own cases as a nurse, now reevaluated from her new perch as a patient. With rare candor she considers what she didn’t know then and what she could have done better. As in her previous books, Brown draws us into her work with the unforgettable details of a nurse’s daily life—the needles, the chemo drugs, the blood transfusions, and the frustrated patients, but this time we see it from the flip side, too. Ultimately Brown learns to be more compassionate with herself, to be a patient not a nurse, and she also offers suggestions about how healthcare can show more compassion to the millions of patients who rely on it.