Cancer survivor Jacqueline Lifmann, age 51, agrees with the importance of good communication when you are being treated for cancer because that’s the main driver for optimal cancer care. Jacqueline was treated successfully for breast cancer in 2014. She emphasizes that, when you go for an appointment with your doctor, you have to stay in control:
“Record every conversation and always take someone with you when you have an appointment. As a patient, you are shaped in statistics, and the doctors simply have to follow the protocols. I personally found a combination of mainstream and alternative treatment very effective. But in the regular hospital, I felt like a child who has to stand between her two quarrelling, divorced parents.”
The need for each patient to take control of his or her own cancer journey is paramount. What’s right for one person may not be correct for another. An extreme example comes from Alex Mons, a commander of the Navy. Alex, age 50, is the father of Stephan, who was diagnosed with a rare form of nasopharynx cancer at the age of 21 and whose cancer has unfortunately recurred after six years.
Despite having an aggressive cancer, Stephan’s father considers his son as resilient and a fighter:
"Before my son was treated, he asked his doctor if he could fly to the Navy base in Curaçao and sail back on his ship with his colleagues. The treatment was finished in November, and Stephan wanted to fly in December. He was still very ill and the doctor advised against it. But he insisted and he received permission to take his trip under strict medical guidance. In December, he flew to Curaçao, stepped aboard the ship and, despite being hospitalized during a heavy storm, he arrived safely home in the Netherlands. It was a very special experience for the crew and particularly for Stephan, helping him to regain his fighting spirit. The trip helped him to recover that desire to fight, and it certainly helped that his fiancée was on board as well!”
Returning to that quote from Frans van Houten on the need to be an innovator in healthcare, even for a company like Philips – with 125 years’ experience in technological innovation and research – it is vital to remember that there is always a human side to the story. In spite of the protocols and the techniques, cancer can happen to anyone.