Part Three: If It Were Cancer…

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Clementine Advisory Board Member Cherie Monarch concludes her series in this week’s blog post. Cherie shares the pain felt by a family when a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder. 

Read Part One of Cherie’s Series HERE and Part Two HERE.

If it were cancer… Would you accommodate it or do everything possible to eradicate it?

If it were cancer… Would you be passive or would you be aggressive?

If it were cancer… Would you allow them to drive a car when they were so sick from undergoing chemo treatments?

If it were cancer… Would you validate their distress, yet still require them to undergo prescribed treatment? Or would you let the treatment stop?

If it were cancer… Would you be angry at your loved one? Would you lose your temper?

If it were cancer… Would anyone in the family be upset or angry? Would there be any hesitation to support the family or the patient?

If it were cancer… Would you remember that you have to take care of yourself, so that you can take care of your loved one?

If it were cancer… Would you ever blame yourself? Would you ever think that you caused the cancer?

If it were cancer… Would you be proactive and diligent about following up with your team and providers? Or would it not even be on your priority list?

If it were cancer… Would you and your spouse or ex be working together to eradicate the cancer in your loved one? Or would you be feuding on how to navigate?

If it were cancer… Would you go against the treatment team’s recommendations? Or would you think it’s not that serious, we will wait to seek a higher level of care?

If it were cancer… Would you accept the first medical practitioner recommended? Or would you ask questions and seek out the best?

If it were cancer… Would you ask me or my loved one how did you get cancer?

If it were cancer… Would you validate the struggle? Or would you judge and interrogate?

If it were cancer… Would you be empathetic? Or would you say “just eat” or “quit purging”?

If it were cancer… And a clinician did not appear educated, would you stay? Or would you seek new expert care?

If it were cancer… Would you have done anything different? Would you have taken a different path?

If it were cancer… Would you accept any treatment to stay alive? Or would it be a battle just to get you in treatment?

If it were cancer… Would you understand why your family is so scared?

If it were cancer… Would you tell your family?

If it were cancer… Would you understand why your family wants to support you? Why they want to be involved?

If it were cancer… Would you tell them it’s none of their business? Would you tell them to walk away? Would you tell them that you can do this on your own?

If it were cancer… Would you refuse treatment? Would you battle your family? Or would you listen?

If it were cancer… Would you understand why your family wants you to be diligent in your recovery? Wants you to have the support of a team?

If it were cancer… Would you think your family is trying to control you?  Would you think that your family is trying to smother you? Or would you think my family really loves me?

If it were cancer… Would you allow your family to hold your hand as you navigate treatment?

If it were cancer… Would you allow them to comfort you when you’re struggling?

If it were cancer…Would you allow family and friends to love you? To hug you? Or would you isolate?

If it were cancer… Would you trust them and want them to help carry your pain?

If it were cancer… Would you run to them or from them?

If it were cancer… Would you listen to their concerns and their fears?

If it were cancer… Would you understand that this is the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to your family? Would you understand that their fears are justified?

If it were cancer… And your student needed to miss school would you hesitate to allow them? Or would you do everything to support them until the school can wait?

If it were cancer… Would you allow virtual school at home until they were recovered and fully in remission?

If it were cancer… Would you penalize them for missing school?

If it were cancer… Would you do everything to support the patient help them reintegrate into school? Or would you saddle them with unrealistic expectations and burdens?

If it were cancer… Would you send cards and bring meals? Would you offer to help?

If it were cancer… Would you offer to watch the kids so the carers could get a night away?

If it were cancer… Would you unite the neighbors, school families, and church members to support the family and the patient? Or would you look the other way? Would you do nothing?

If it were cancer… Would you continue to speak to those affected about your diets, workouts, latest health craze?

If it were cancer… Would you quit asking the patient to babysit because you were afraid your children might catch “it”?

If it were cancer… Would you reach out to the family if you had not heard from them for a week, a month, a year? Would you express concern and offer support?

If it were cancer…Would we be demanding more research? More funding? More grants and scholarships? Would we accept “no”?

If it were cancer…Would nations, organizations, and populations join hands to eradicate?

If it were cancer… Would you hesitate to give your employee time off? Or would you offer them to take all the time their family needs?

If it were cancer… Would you hesitate or refuse to cover treatment? Would you tell the patient or the family that treatment is not “medically necessary” and deny insurance coverage?

If it were cancer… Would you tell the patient and the family that they need to fail at a lower level of care first before insurance will cover prescribed treatment?

If it were cancer…Would you ignore the prescribed treatment of the treatment team and allow the insurance company to determine what is best practice or best care for the patient? Would you follow the mandates by the insurance company medical director who has never met the patient? Would the public and media allow any such treatment of a cancer patient?

If it were cancer…Would a patient be discharged from care without completing treatment?

If it were cancer…Would continued coverage be reviewed every two weeks, week, or three days? Would chemo treatments stop if insurance denied?

If it were cancer…Would the patient or family be battling insurance while trying to save their loved ones life?

If it were cancer…Would treatment be denied by the insurance company?

If it were cancer…Would the entire team – family, friends, providers, and insurance demand early intervention and treatment? Would every one collaborate and communicate to ensure the action was swift and aggressive? And as prescribed?

If it were cancer… Would you let any newly diagnosed patient leave your office without appointments, materials, and support?

If it were cancer… Would you help the patient and the family find appropriate support and treatment? Would you do everything possible?

If it were cancer…and you weren’t familiar with that particular type of cancer, would you align yourself with a doctor who was? Would you tell the family I am going to help you find the best care possible?

If it were cancer… Would you tell the family that their loved one needs to do this alone?

If it were cancer… Would you ever tell the family that their support is not helping? Or would you teach them how to support the patient?

If it were cancer… Would you ever tell the patient they were “not that sick”?

If it were cancer… Would you do everything possible to support the patient and the family?

If it were cancer… Would you hesitate to collaborate with other treatment providers? Or would you feel it’s a necessity?

If it were cancer… Would you listen to the family’s concerns when they approached you?

If it were cancer… Would you schedule appointments in two days, two weeks, or two months?

If it were cancer… Would you hesitate to include the parents? Would you care if they were over 18? Would you let them decompensate because there was no release? Would let them refuse to take the chemo? Undergo treatment?

If it were cancer… Would you think it is serious?

The bottom line is eating disorders are just as deadly as cancer. In fact, without treatment, up to 20% will die. They have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and they are the third most chronic illness in adolescents. Every 62 minutes someone dies as a direct result of an eating disorder… 23 lives lost every single day!

So as you’re navigating this journey yourself, with a loved one, with a patient, or with a friend, and you’re pondering what to do or what to say, how to support someone who is struggling, determining your next step, questioning what the right path is, please try to reframe it.

If it were cancer…

P.S. This post is not meant in any way to diminish the seriousness of cancer nor negate any families horrific journey with cancer.  It is intended to highlight the seriousness of eating disorders. Imagine if everyone treated eating disorders like cancer…

 

This article originally published on Cherie Monarch’s Blog.

 

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