The Distance of Care

Nick P | Family Member |

For me, the word care has two separate but hopefully overlapping meanings. First there is the process of being an actual care-giver, or other involved member of this community, doing things to…

practically help a patient’s experience and outcomes. Then there is the emotional investment supportive people of all kinds are willing to give when they commit to help those affected by cancer, whether in large or small ways.

I’m interested in how this balance is kept up, because it feels like it’s actually very important that both these two meanings converge in the effort that we all put into the Cancer Center’s mission, whether in direct or indirect, internal or external capacities. The first of these meanings obviously requires some professional distance to be kept up in various ways, partly so care-givers are able to avoid being emotionally overwhelmed as they do their work. Without some distance, how can we retain our own ability to make the best decisions possible, day-to-day? But without the other meaning, of emotional care, what really drives us to keep helping in whatever way we can? How do we negotiate genuinely caring about individual cancer patients then, whether we know them as friends, family members or in a clinical context, and yet still ourselves maintain any detachment, so we are really able to be effectively caring?

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