When a Nurse Becomes a Patient
“A stunning book that helped me understand how to survive a serious illness and how to understand hospitals in general. Theresa Brown is also a hell of a good writer.”
From the mammogram that would change her life through her diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, New York Times bestselling author Theresa Brown, RN, tells a poignant and powerful story about having breast cancer in the United States.
Despite her training and years of experience as an oncology and hospice nurse, Brown finds it difficult to navigate the medical maze from the other side of the bed. Why is she so often left in the dark about procedures and treatments? Why is she expected to research her own best treatment options? Why is there so much red tape? At times she’s mad at herself for not speaking up and asking for what she needs but knows that being a “difficult” patient could mean she gets worse care.
Of the almost four million women in this country living with breast cancer, many have had, like Brown, a treatable form of the disease. Both unnerving and extremely relatable, her experience shows us how our for-profit health care industry “cures” us but at the same time leaves so many of us feeling alienated and uncared for. As she did so brilliantly in her New York Times bestseller, The Shift, Brown relays the unforgettable details of her daily life—the needles, the chemo drugs, the rubber gloves, the bureaucratic frustrations—but this time from her new perch as a patient, looking back at some of her own cases and considering what she didn’t know then about the warping effects of fear and the healing virtues of compassion. “People failed me when I was a patient and I failed patients when working as a nurse. I see that now,” she writes.
Healing is must-read for all of us who have tried to find healing through our health-care system.