Reaction or response

Each day I am inundated with emails, calls, texts, DM’s, likes, loves, and comments.

I take the time to read comments and do my very best to respond to each and every single one of them.

At times there is an email, a voicemail, or a comment that is negative, snarky, or points out that I may be wrong.

When I first started out, I would read the negative feedback and have an immediate reaction. A set feeling that made my heart race, or feel like a gut punch, or made me believe I was wrong.

It was a physical reaction. It was a intellectual reaction. More often than not, it was a reaction of negativity.

As part of that reaction I would fire off a comment. A comment to try and prove that I was right, the other person was wrong, and hope that I would feel better.

The reality was that I never felt better. It never made me feel good. It never proved anything, other than I was young, reactive, and cared more about what others thought about me versus staking my flag in the ground.

Owning my lens. My comments. My truth.

I have learned a lot being in medicine. I have witnessed even more living, working, and listening in the world of cancer, oncology.

I’ve learned there is a difference between a reaction or a response.

In cancer (all of medicine), a reaction is something negative. It means a physician prescribed something for a patient and that it had a not so nice outcome. Anything from fever, chills, vomiting, aches, pain, to the most severe death.

A reaction is unplanned. It forces people to scramble, act fast, and at times without a lot of knowledge, insight, and choosing an option that may not be the best of one had more time to decide.

A reaction is nothing a patient or a physician ever want to see, hear, or have to face. Ever.

A response in cancer (medicine) is very different.

A response means that the drug is “working” to shrink the tumor. The radiation is killing cancer cells. The patient doesn’t have nausea or vomiting. The fever has gone away.

A response means good news. It means forward progress. Improvement. A journey towards feeling better than you did.

A response is planned. A response is what is expected. A response is controlled. A response is thought out, prepared, insightful, and delivered with care.

The greatest gift medicine, and the amazing colleagues and friends I’ve learned from in my journey, has given me is to know the difference between a reaction and a response.

Medicine has taught me to not be reactive.

Medicine has taught me to be responsive.

It’s taught me to own my lens. To own my words. To build the world I know is possible. To ask the difficult questions. To give a voice to those that cannot speak.

To plant a stake in the ground.

History will dictate right and wrong.

I will allow my 20 year history to speak for itself.

Like all good medicine, I will only respond.

My response matters.

My response was, is, and always will be at the N of 1.

As always feel free to email me at or follow me on Twitter and Instagram as CancerGeek


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