Why I Love Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center
Is it strange to love a cancer hospital? I didn’t fall in love with the first hospital I dated. When I met the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center I had some hard bark. I learned that Duke Cancer is different. Duke Cancer Center saved my life.
Duke’s medical teams are careful with MY time. Cancer takes over life. You move from one appointment to another. Life feels consumed. Think of this irony. The life you're fighting for is being taken away by the fighting. Life becomes treatments, consultations and waiting rooms. Life’s joy is easy to lose. Professor Joseph Campbell named this joy the "rapture of being alive." Fighting cancer can swallow life’s rapture. Duke’s care helped me stay in touch with what I was fighting for.
Equality is missing in many health care institutions. As a single paying patient it is easy to feel tiny and unimportant. Patient needs, wants, and desires should drive any health care train. Duke’s Cancer Center keeps focus on me. I feel equal, included, and respected. Patients are customers not merely a means to some other end. Duke’s environment continually reinforces my importance. I’m the reason everyone is in the room.
Feeling unimportant and dislocated may come from how we organize health care. I’m sick but insurance pays. Who is the customer? Duke’s commitment to patient respect creates equality and equality means everything to cancer recovery. I remember reading experiments by Martin Seligman in college. Seligman’s pioneering work on Learned Helplessness proved how debilitating the feeling of helplessness could be.
Cancer can create learned helplessness. The invisible hand, the Big C, comes down from on high
plunging life into pain and chaos. Little things matter when you're sick. Small acts of kindness and respect save your life. Duke understands how important little things can be. Coffee carts and helpful volunteers circle waiting rooms looking to refresh your cup and provide comfort. Lab tests and blood work were processed expeditiously first, and then I met with fully informed doctors saving my most precious commodity – time.
Environment and context is so important. If an environment seems overwhelming it is. If administrators seem hostile and angry it colors your experience and hampers getting better. I learned early in my cancer journey to remove emotional or physical toxins. I learned to prioritize thngs that could help me feel better and toss the rest.
Once a moment leaves it is impossible to retrieve. Duke’s Cancer Center understands how much TIME means to cancer patients. Nothing makes time more valuable than facing its end. That single thought can be depressing. Duke’s respect for patients builds control. I have cancer, but there are options. I am not helpless.
Ever notice a positive attitude is catching? Duke’s Cancer Center accentuates the positive. Patients are loved, hugged, and cared for. Every nurse, administrator, and Doctor at Duke understands each moment is precious.
It is easy to see why U.S. News & World Report consistently rank Duke’s Comprehensive Cancer Center as one of the top cancer hospitals. I didn’t realize the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designates only 40 “Comprehensive Cancer Centers.” Duke was one of the original eight. Here is how the NCI describes its Comprehensive Cancer Center designation:
National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Centers are recognized for scientific excellence. They are a major source of discovery and development of more effective approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. They also deliver medical advances to patients and their families, educate health care professionals and the public.
I know how active research can help patients. Duke Cancer Center is studying my Leukemia. Everyone in my family shared blood for Duke’s Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) study. Duke’s CLL researchers even came to my home to draw the biggest vials of blood I’ve ever seen from my brother and me. After drawing a few pints (lol) I thought I would just go to work. I could not. I had to sit down and wait for my heart to replenish. Active research informs patient care and vice versa.
Have you noticed hospitals in your area starting to advertise? Marketing seems a new idea for hospitals. I’ve been selling one thing or another for thirty years and appreciate how medical marketing is trying to find its way. Duke’s ads are honest. Doctors look me right in the eye and say, “You matter at Duke Cancer.” Duke Cancer Center walks its talk.
Do they walk their talk is the first test. Does a health care institution and its doctors value and respect Doctor and Patient/Customer and Institution and Patient/Customer relationships? Duke Cancer Center is the best I’ve experienced.
I didn’t fall in love with the first hospital I dated; I fell in love with the best hospital I dated. As a patient I feel both welcomed and included in Duke’s “Cure Cancer” world. I get to grow, feel better, and live. This is why I love Duke Cancer Center.
Related Link: A Room Full Of Heroes
(about Duke's Cancer Center Board)