Behind the Curtain: A Patient’s Evolving Relationship to Illness

Illustration by Eric Collins/ All rights reserved.

Illustration by Eric Collins/ All rights reserved.

Having edited it, I’d like to recommend AJN‘s November Reflections essay, “Behind the Curtain.” In it, author Leigh Pate looks back to an early experience in her own cancer treatment. Sitting in a chemotherapy bay receiving an infusion, she overhears a conversation between a cancer patient and his nurse that she will remember years later.

The central insight of this essay can’t be put into a few words, but it has something to do with the fact that the way we think and feel about an illness changes over time as we ourselves change.

The metaphors we use to talk about an illness change as the years pass. We develop a relationship to the illness that isn’t as simple as it seemed at first. Is it really always a battle? Are there always clear winners and losers? What do we really want? What is it to be strong?

As the author writes:

Today I am more humble about my ability to control an uncontrollable disease. . . . Somehow I, too, have slowly evolved from a newcomer to this cancer world to a veteran.

Like many good essays, this one vividly conjures a moment and then quietly weaves reflection around it. Reflections essays are just one page, and are free access, so I hope you’ll give “Behind the Curtain” a read.


2016-11-21T13:00:52+00:00 November 4th, 2016|Patients|0 Comments
Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

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