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The Holidays Are a Perfect Time for Thanking Your Medical Team

Taking time to show gratitude for compassionate care is important. It can be done any time of year but the holiday season offers a perfect opportunity.
PUBLISHED November 30, 2017
Bonnie Annis is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is an avid photographer, freelance writer/blogger, wife, mother and grandmother.
When active treatment ends and you’re no longer facing regimented appointments, do you ever think about your medical team? The majority of people would probably answer no to that question. Not many want to think about their doctors and nurses, in fact, feeling overjoyed at having no contact, especially in the case of cancer related treatment, is probably normal. But, I’m of a different mindset.

I think of my medical team often. I appreciate all they did to help me through a very difficult time in my life and I want them to know how grateful I am for the attention they gave me.

Doctors generously dedicate their lives to helping others. They work hard through years of school and residency to gain training and board certification. As they choose to enter the medical field, they know long hours and time away from their families is a given. It takes a special kind of person to dedicate themselves to a medical career.

Doctors and nurses don’t always receive thanks. Often, they receive complaints. No matter how hard they try, they aren’t able to please everyone. When patients are in pain, they want relief and expect their medical team to do whatever necessary to make that happen.

Some medical staff become overwhelmed with huge caseloads. They are unable to give the quality care they long to give. Time and energy are limited and can prevent them from interacting on a personal level with patients. But there are some doctors and nurses who go out of their way to develop relationships with their patients. They pay close attention and listen well. They go above and beyond the call of duty making sure to provide quality care and good bedside manner.

The holidays are a perfect time for remembering your medical team. Thanksgiving Day helps us focus on gratitude while Christmas shifts our focus from gratitude to love. One of the best ways to show gratitude is through gift giving. If you’re like me, you don’t immediately begin your Christmas list with the names of doctors and nurses. Family and friends come first and then, a little further down on the list, come public servants like mailmen, hair dressers, and garbage collectors. Last year, I made a special point of adding my doctors and some special nurses to the list. Oh, I hadn’t planned to buy them gifts, adding them into my Christmas budget, but I did want to acknowledge them with handwritten cards that expressed my heartfelt thanks.

First, I needed to decide who I wanted to acknowledge. I remembered each stage of treatment and specific men and women began to come to mind. Those who’d shown me an extra measure of kindness were the ones I wanted to thank.

Next, I made a point to shop for beautiful and unique Christmas thank you cards. I only needed a dozen or so. After I’d found the perfect ones, I sat down and began writing. On each card, I made sure to offer specific information to help the medical personnel remember me. (With thousands of patients it would be hard for them to remember each one by name.) Next, I complimented each person on a job well done. I took time to include how they made me feel at the time and why I thought they were so special. After I’d completed my sentiments, I wished the recipient a Merry Christmas and dropped the cards into the mail.

At my appointment in January, the oncologist thanked me for the card I’d sent him. He said not many patients took time to write notes and he certainly appreciated mine. I felt good knowing I’d touched his heart. He told me, as a physician, he doesn’t always realize the impact his care has on patients or family members. He went on to say when he receives a notice of thanks, it helps reinvigorate him to provide the very best and innovative care he can give to his patients.

There are many ways to show appreciation to your medical team. Note writing may not be your forte but perhaps one of these other ideas would be better suited to your needs:

Here are some creative ways to thank your medical team:
  1. Send a gift basket to the office. A fruit and cheese basket, assorted candies and nuts, or any other basket of goodies would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Gift cards are always appreciated and there are a variety of cards to select – restaurants, services, or VISA cards are among some of the choices available.
  3. Flowers always spread cheer.
  4. Home baked goodies are always a hit. Cookies, cakes, candies or other confectionary delights would certainly show your appreciation.
  5. A gift bag with thoughtful and useful items like notepads, pens, some edible snack items, warm fuzzy socks, etc.
  6. Send balloons. Mylar helium balloons last the longest but any balloon bouquet would be a nice touch.
  7. Give books. If you are unsure what type books your doctor or medical staff reads, you might want to check with one of their coworkers for more information.
A thank you note should always be included with your gift. Be sure to use a professional title in your letter or card. Always respect the doctor/patient relationship and keep it on a professional level.

A sample card might look something like this:

Dear Dr. _________,

I am writing to thank you for the excellent care you provided me during my recent illness. Your treatment coupled with the caring attitude of the hospital staff has helped me recover quickly.

You have always been kind and have offered moral support when I needed it most. I’ll never forget how you made me feel right after surgery. You offered hope each time you came in to discuss treatment options with me and that gave my family and I such comfort. 

I am extremely grateful for you and hope you’ll continue touching lives the way you’ve touched mine.

With a grateful heart,

__________________
 
Writing a letter or card to your doctor will only take a few minutes but your words will speak volumes. If you haven’t thanked one of your team members for quality care they’ve provided, why not do it today? A job well done deserves a little pat on the back now and then, don’t you think?
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