Cancer: making time for recovery post-treatment
Isn’t it about time we challenged and moved away from the tyranny of speed, when it comes to healing and recovery?
I’ve long asked myself this question, both in relation to working psychologically with individuals going through cancer, and also during my own recovery from treatment for breast cancer. I find myself frequently pondering on the somewhat unhelpful phrases such as ‘get well soon’ and, ‘wishing you a speedy recovery’, which are so dominant in our culture. Surely it would be more helpful, and forgiving, to say, ‘take your time’, and ‘I wish you a slow, gentle recovery’?
In a profoundly wise, and thought-provoking book, newly published, and entitled Recovery: The Lost Art of Convalescence, Gavin Francis, the GP and author, explores how and why we get better, suggesting that when it comes to illness, “sometimes the end is just the beginning”. I like this quote, which so helpfully suggests that the long journey back to health (however we may define that) can be far more complex and nuanced than we imagine.
In exploring this notion of ‘the end is just the beginning’, Francis describes the many different forms recovery can take, whilst also revealing how little time is made for it. Tellingly, he points to the gaping absence of any reference to the process of recovery, or convalescence, during his 13 years of medical training. Continue reading