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Column: My Team

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Kenneth B. Lourie

Not literally, of course. Nor am I the coach or the general manager. But I do feel like an owner, in that there are people that I invest in – again not literally, but definitely emotionally. The people who express the kind of positivity and confidence and encouragement – and empathy and understanding quite honestly, of the demands and rigors physically, emotionally and spiritually of being a terminal cancer patient. Aside from my immediate family and inner circle of friends, co-workers, and fellow cancer patients with whom I’ve connected, I refer to all the people who have sent cards, letters, e-mails and general well-wishes offering their hope, prayers and confidence in yours truly surviving this ordeal. Moreover, there are people I’ve met along the way: health care providers, therapists, newly diagnosed cancer patients, previously diagnosed cancer patients, individuals who don’t know me/don’t know my story; whose personality, perspective, enthusiasm and sincerity have empowered me, and who have exuded the kind of positive and uplifting spirit that fuels the passion that a stage IV lung cancer patient tends to lose as the fight for one’s own survival continues. To invoke a sports cliché: these are people who are good in the locker room/clubhouse.

These individuals are selfless, dedicated, motivated, caring, concerned, successful, can-do-type positive influences who optimize their optimism and bury their pessimism, especially around a terminal cancer patient. The last thing, the absolute last vibe that a terminal patient needs is negativity, depression, anxiety, worry and stress; internally and equally importantly: externally. I don’t need to feel or be influenced by or be in the presence of anybody – or anything, that intentionally or unintentionally (by their nature) brings me down or opens me up to self doubt, or doubt of any kind for that matter. I need to believe. And most importantly, I/we need to be infused with positivity. And I don’t mean Stepford Wives-type behavior (robotic, following a script, lacking in substance) either. I mean, the human touch, emotionally certainly and occasionally even physically. In summary, we need a connection, a feeling of togetherness and mutual awareness of the patient’s plight and a willingness to face it and dare I say, discuss it together in an intelligent, thoughtful and exuberant-type manner where the highs – in life and in any treatment protocol, are maximized and where the lows are minimized.

The up-and-down-and-all-around existence of a cancer patient who’s terminal is already as much negativity (which becomes almost endemic) as one can endure. Therefore, any more negativity from any source in any way/context might just push that patient over his or her emotional edge. An edge which might involve a metaphorical set of finger nails. Who knows really, what the patient’s limitations are? We only know who, what, where and when circumstances exacerbate an already precarious position, a position certainly worth avoiding. My team consists of individuals with attitudes that reflect this reality. It may not be for everybody. But it better be for the cancer patient. “I don’t know much, but I know that.” (Ben Affleck – out of context, from the movie “Good Will Hunting.”)

Kenny Lourie is an Advertising Representative for The Potomac Almanac & The Connection Newspapers