Over the years, my clients have been extremely kind to me. I have received many special tokens of appreciation, all carefully considered and some even homemade (or home baked). Psychologists are taught to be cautious with gifts, to acknowledge them graciously but, if they are excessive, to refuse them gently. Thankfully, I have not been in the awkward position of having to refuse any gift.
As you know, I have been a patient myself, both with a therapist and with my posse of medical professionals. And on many occasions, I too have wanted to say thank you with something tangible. I have tried to use the same guidelines for my own gift giving as I was taught. Usually, I write a card or I bake–baking is one of my few talents–although I’ve bought the odd small gift on occasion.
I’ve been thinking about how to express my gratitude a lot lately, especially since I met up with Jessica Dollard, the Patient Centred Experience Advisor for the Calgary Cancer Project who recently “hired” me. One of Jess’s many creative ideas is to find a way that both patients and staff within the cancer system might acknowledge their gratitude publicly. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with since there have been many times I’ve wanted to say thanks to people involved in my medical care but have not known the best way to do so.
The other factor that has got me thinking about thanking is the second anniversary of my living with leukemia. Tomorrow, at my three-month Cancer Centre checkup, I see the stellar health professionals who’ve kept me alive. (That appointment snuck up on both of us, eh?) When I was first diagnosed with CML, I had not met the lovely and highly competent nurse practitioner who now monitors my care, but I was already under the expert supervision of my new hematologist.
This poor, unsuspecting Dr. Blood got a crash course in my health: a few days after first meeting her, during my brief hiatus from hospital, I landed back in the ICU. My wonky liver was fighting with my chemotherapy. Thanks to Dr. Blood’s diligence, regular visits, and consultation with ICU staff, I weathered the crisis. Specifically, when ICU docs questioned whether another day on a particularly expensive medication would help me regain my capacity to fight infection, Dr. Blood insisted on one more shot (both literally and figuratively). That shot saved my life.
Tomorrow, when I see my team at the Cancer Centre, I will have freshly baked wares with me, a batch of full-fat raspberry scones made with fruit pilfered from a friend’s patch. (This friend kindly maintains the bountiful patch only to leave town all summer. Were I not looting, the berries would go to the birds.) I hope my cancer team enjoys my offering, but more importantly, I hope Dr. Blood realizes how grateful I am to still be here to bake them. The alternative ain’t great.