Cancer mixes physician’s personal, professional life

Capt. Kirin Madden: Guest columnist

Relay for Life has a lot of meaning for me, both personal and professional.
Like most people, cancer has touched my life and made its impression on my soul.
As a physician, I spend a lot of time and energy looking for cancer through a variety of screening exams. In a clinical and detached way this goes through my mind so many times a day that it doesn’t really mean anything. Yet, the times I really suspect cancer or find it, my mind races and I search for all the possible solutions for the patient. I find as much information as I can to begin informing them and preparing them for the journey they are about to embark upon. Most patients with cancer see a specialist and so I have varying amounts of contact with them. But, as I reflect on my patients who have experienced cancer firsthand, I am astonished at the wide variety of responses people have to the disease and the inner strengths it brings out in some people.
That’s when my personal and the professional lives mix. I have lost so many good people to the disease that I feel very strong about doing whatever I can to help find a cure for this devastating illness.
I have one patient, who is now over a year past hearing the infamous statement “get your affairs in order,” meaning death is imminent. Every time I talk to this man, I know that every day is a gift for him and his wife and they appreciate every moment.
I have also lost two grandmothers to cancer. I was in medical school when my grandmother started showing signs of pancreatic cancer. Before she had the official diagnosis, I had the sinking feeling that I knew what was coming.
However, I didn’t really know what that would bring out in a family and their grand matron. The strength, pain, sadness, despair, love and hope that was our life for almost two years changed me forever.
I do respect the power of this disease, but I also believe that everyday research bring us closer to a cure. So, anything we can do that brings us closer to the goal of finding a cure is worth the effort. I believe that the focus on survivors and cure puts a very positive light on cancer and the hope of strengthening our resources to fight.
Now lets get walkin’.

Capt. Kirin Madden is a family physician at Cannon Air Force Base.