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The Ethics of Healing Art.

I've been out on the Web reading some things written by people with breast cancer. I do this periodically because I've my own connections to breast cancer, not as a person with but as an RN who's worked with BC patients, and with friends who've lived, and died with BC, and subsequent to that as a photographer trying to explore those issues and make some kind of contribution in The Cause. I do it to spark ideas for for one of my ongoing projects, Healing Art, a Personal Journey.

I won't use the word victim when I'm talking about breast cancer patients, as that implies a perpetrator afflicting them with the disease; other than the Universe, I'm not sure that there's a perpetrator in this. And I can't really call the set of people with breast cancer, Breast Cancer Patients. Oh, they are, of someone somewhere, but they're not my patients. That's a whole relationship in itself, and if I'm not practicing in the clinical scene where they're receiving treatment, they aren't my patients. I am also uncomfortable with that relatively longish description I've used, 'people with breast cancer.'

One of the LJ's I've gone to off and on, well, through the benefit of my professional training I read her words and my Mk 1 Nursing Assessment Biological Computer, aka Brain, says: she's in the anger phase. She commented on our (non-BC people) approach to them (BC people) and how it feels to her. It's a great article. http://www.poisontemple.com, and read "Platitudes Are Cheap."

What I find about myself is interesting and disturbing. I'm working on this series, "Healing Art,"  portraits, of people doing breast self-examination, and I want to include both survivors and people who are currently dealing with breast cancer. As an artist, it's the self-image issues that pique my curiosity for that portion of the Healing Art project. Yet, I'm reluctant to intrude on their lives to ask, would you be interested? It happened again today, while reading "Platitudes Are Cheap." I wanted to contact her, not to offer a platitude but to say I don't know what's going to happen to you, I don't know it's going to be all right, people do die of this disease... I only know, from reading what she's written, that she's dealing with it. Better some days, worse other days, but dealing with it. She does have a choice, she could decide to ignore it, but she hasn't.

I expect that's in big part because of my nursing background. I know I can't separate the two: photographer/RN. That's part and parcel of my overall nursing philosophy. As RN's we are supposed to consider our patients holistically. Short list, what's their experience, their education, their support system (read: family, but not limited to that). How will all of that come into effect in helping these people to the most healthy state of being they can achieve. OK, that's all well and good, and it even works pretty well. But we can not, as nurses, consider our patients holistically if we do not also consider ourselves the same way.

I'm a photographer. I knew when I went into nursing that I'd learn things as an RN which would affect my art. It took me a while to realize, my art also affects my nursing. My friend, Cher, who died of breast cancer, which eventually led to this concept I'm working on, I learned from all this how much impact my art has on my nursing. And a big, big part of my background as a nurse is, respect patient privacy, patient confidentiality.

I think that's why I get so reluctant about intruding into their lives, these people currently coping with breast cancer, even though I really want to explore what that experience means. That, and because like I said before, I don't see them as my patients because they're not undergoing treatment at my place. Those patients who are under treatment here, it's clear, and there's ethical issues with asking them to become involved (I'm giving them treatment. Might I with hold that treatment if they say no? We aren't even going to go into the asking.)

Ethical. Right. What chance at healing, what opportunity to grow past the disease, am I withholding by not asking people (not under my direct care in a clincial setting), "Would you be interested in exploring these issues with me?" And healing... isn't that why I became an RN in the first place?


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Aug. 6th, 2004 08:10 pm (UTC)
Dam, you answered my own question already. (...you have a calling similar to mine. I'm not accredited in massage therapy yet, but i can tell you the (over 10) names and faces of the friends and aquaintences who've told me I had given them the best massage of their lives... some of whom who've already had professional massages, and one who taught massage to stressed college students from the university health and wellness center)

what i would like to learn more about:
Specifically Manual Lymphatic Drainage, because once I get more trained I'd like to start helping people with cancer, (and once i get older myself, practice geriatric massage too).

I wish you the best of luck with your project. I know there is already the patient-nurse boundary, but there is also the patient-nurse bond. If you feel comfortable talking with them, I think it's important to tell people of your project and if they are interested, to let them be involved. Those who want to be involved will most likely get the most out of the project anyways, knowing a piece of themselves helped make it happen. You are a voice of a thousand ocean waves, pushed along by the ocean currents talking to each wave as the salt tickles your throat. Have knowledge that everyone knows that each seashell sounds different and your message will be heard by the many people on the beach, animals in the ocean, and the wide open expanse. You are already inspired... your fruited vision already born of nurturing...
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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