A Client, Not a Patient

I won’t be able to change the nomenclature of the medical profession but I refer to myself as a client, not a patient. By definition, a patient is “One who receives medical attention or treatment.” The archaic meaning was “One who suffers,” from the Latin verb meaning “to endure.” A client on the other hand is “The party for which professional services are rendered.”


Catch the nuance? A patient is the object of medical care, a client is the subject of medical services. In language as in life, an object is passive, a subject is active.


A patient complies with the experts. A client consults the experts, then follows what seems the best advice.


A patient might complain but would never contradict an authority. A client will ask questions and weigh alternatives before deciding.


A patient goes where sent and doesn’t change doctors or clinics. A client tries to find the best physicians and facilities realistically available.


A patient asks “What?” A client asks “Why?”


Being a client takes a lot more work. I have to educate myself about my condition and treatment options. It’s a daunting but doable task thanks to the Internet. There are plenty of reputable sites with reliable information the average person can understand. (See the LYMPHOMA INFO box in my sidebar for a start.)


Oncologists know a shipload more about lymphoma than do its sufferers, but they don’t know everything. It’s impossible to keep up with the ocean of new information. A dialogue with a well-informed client could suggest new possibilities to a thoughtful physician.


When I see Dr. Kurbegov in two weeks, I’ll ask if radioimmunotherapy is an option for my type of lymphoma based on an article I read in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/14/health/14lymphoma.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&ref=health&pagewanted=1&adxnnlx=1215184868-kpGcEK3iDh7sp+7sjM14Ug). I’ll ask about any clinical trials for which I might be a candidate, especially those sponsored by the MD Anderson Cancer Center where Dr. Kurbegov was a Chief Fellow.


I’m not trying to play doctor or impress anyone with my research skills. I’m just trying to understand my cancer and to be proactive in eradicating it. After all, it’s my life.



7 thoughts on “A Client, Not a Patient

  1. Mike, thanks for inviting me to your blog! I consider it a privilege to be in this part of your life.

    I want to vigorously challenge what you said about “defunct”. Your creative and editorial skill influenced a generation and made another generation mad (or jealous) – but that’s their problem. We were blessed by your Bible teaching and expereinced a great deal of gentle grace from you. You have been a giant of a teacher in my life.

    I’m glad that you’re at the stage of fighting those naughty cells. Do good! Do good well! I’m sure there’s a quote from one of the Matterhorn books that would be just right here.

    I’ll close with a piece of sage advice I read recently: never take a laxative and a sleeping pill the same night.

    Blessings and health onya, brother!


  2. Hi Mike

    This is a great explanation of a difficult topic that it can be hard for medics to understand. Thanks for writing it.

    Wishing you all the very best


  3. I also like your distinction between patient and client. According to statistics I’m at high risk for cancer, so I also study up on it. Eight years ago I had to go to a specialist to see if I had breast cancer – it wasn’t malignant but it is still there. I was going to have it cut out (the specialist didn’t say to or not to so I thought I’d just get it out); I was practically ready for the operation when a nurse said, “Why are you having this operation – they usually get smaller or disappear after menopause. So I canceled the day surgery and walked home (1 mile). I guess sometimes nurses are more free to speak the truth frankly than doctors? When I was faced with my possibility of cancer I chose to immerse myself in historical fiction and not think about it. Anyway, all has been well and I do try to do the right thing – get good water, food, air & exercise, as Albert Carter said in his book, The Cancer Answer

  4. Mike,
    I enjoyed your take on patient/client. I, too have not been railroaded into blindly doing what I’m told to do by my oncologist.

    After my hysterectomy, my pathology showed agressive cancer (cells) but microscopic and no tumors and nothing in the lymph glands which were removed along with my apendix, ovaries, cervix, uterus, etc…eveything!

    Since it was routine to have chemo and radiation, he was horrified that I decided (after considering alternative nutiritional regimens) to forgo the his mandate!

    You are right, there is SO much on the internet and I have put installed a whole house water filter (no chlorine for cancer patients…none!), I have cut out beef and pork, sugar and milk products.

    I feel great and at six months, I’m seeking another oncologist who I feel will start from scrath with me on tests so I can get myself satisfied that I am cancer free.

    You are “well spoken” and I enjoyed your blog. You have beautiful family and have so much to live for. I have to keep an eye on my skin as my Dad had skin cancer and had to have half of one of his ears removed. I’m blond and fair like Dad so it is critical to keep an eye on every suspicious mole or blotch that doesn heal.

    Good luck with your fight and thank you for the new terminilogies that I will use from this day forward!

    Janie in Woodstock, Ga;.

  5. Hi Mike,
    Hope passed on your blog address to us. We are praying for you and your family. Check out Oasis of Hope (oasisofhope.com) in Tijuana. They have been doing amazing things with cancer treatments for years. It’s a holistic style of treatment with excellent results.
    Our love to you and Susan.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s