The way we talk about empowerment, it sometimes sounds like it's all about participation between doctor and patient. There's more to it.
Consider what Norman Cousins wrote in Anatomy of an Illness thirty years ago:
Here's a live specimen of what he meant, on the hoof: on my ACOR kidney cancer listserv, a woman who calls herself Goodsister wrote this Friday, in a discussion of how we cancer patients view our situations:
I find myself wanting to know more about the specifics of the correlations, as Dave said, and yet unsure I want to know, in case my own situation might point to a high likelihood of recurrence.
Part of me thinks like this: The cancer was a mistake my body made. Oops - my immune system got confused; derailed by the stress and misery of life events, it failed to recognize cancer growing in my kidney. When the tumor had grown quite large, my body then threw me a clue: Here's some blood in the urine for you. And it did so BEFORE I had metastasis - visible metastasis, that is.
So after this first clean scan a week or two ago, I am just going along with some kind, encouraging thoughts for my immune system. "Stay awake, little immune cells, and patrol the perimeters. Anything that starts acting weird, jump on it. Here's some nice Japanese green tea, to saturate my blood with the anticancer attitude. Here's some flax seed and PSK mushrooms."
My current operative POV is the same as the slave in Gladiator, discussing the inevitability of death: "Not yet."
Isn't that terrific? Isn't that a whole different point of view compared to the common "woe is me"?
Good job, Goodsister!