an open letter to radiation therapists

June 9, 2017

Letter to folks at Radiation Therapy

I’m done! I moved a crabby, wounded animal on my first week of treatment through to feeling a glimmer of joy today that this cancer business is done (for now).

You have helped me these past four weeks. Thank you. I always presumed competence, but it was your kindness and humanity that set you apart. Here are the small things that meant the world to me:

  1. Eye contact, introductions and smiles.
  2. The offer of a warm blanket.
  3. Chit chat – about the weather, colour of my nail polish, my family, plans for the day.
  4. Helping me on and off the table.
  5. Covering me up as much as possible.
  6. Telling me what you were doing as you went along. (This lessened anxiety, a lot).
  7. Your respectful treatment of my husband and son when they came in.
  8. Being open to answering my questions. Prompting me to ask questions. Saying, ‘what questions do you have’ instead of ‘do you have any questions’
  9. A reassuring hand on me.
  10. Not appearing rushed, even if you were.
  11. Your demonstrated compassion: empathy for fatigue, burning, itching, how crappy this whole experience is.

I am grateful for all those so-called little things. I think medicine can cure (sometimes) but it is the love that actually heals us patients.

Please keep doing these things, even if the system tells you otherwise. They matter.

Warmly,
Sue Robins.

(Shared with the Radiation Therapists on my unit at the cancer agency (and their manager) on my last day of treatment.  Although I’m quick to provide ‘constructive feedback’, I also strongly believe in saying thank you too).  

6 thoughts on “an open letter to radiation therapists

  1. Katharina Staub says:

    So well written. It’s the humanity we crave. Understanding and love in tough times is what helps us get through some of these life changing moments.
    Love you Sue.

  2. Judy says:

    What a wonderful testimony to the fine therapist in radiation oncology who give so much of themselves to their patients

  3. Linda Chitwood says:

    My husband died about 2 weeks ago after a 10 year battle with Mesothelioma. His radiation therapists were the best. Very proficient and compassionate.

  4. sue robins says:

    Thank you so much for your comment, Linda. I am happy to hear of your husband’s experience with his radiation therapists. I am thankful for the small kindnesses that have been extended my way. xo.

  5. Justin MIller says:

    As a Radiation Therapist, your letter is more fulfilling than any hourly rate can compare to! This is why we (Radiation Therapist) do what we do! It sounds like you had top notch therapist performing your treatments! I wish you the best and thank you for sharing your story as this is an extremely rewarding field if you love to help people thru their journey to kick cancers butt! Best wishes!

  6. Gina Bolden says:

    Thank you Sue Robins for sharing this, from me and all my fellow therapists. Although we work to provide income for our families our rewards come from our patients. God bless you on your journey.

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