Writing a letter to your confirmation candidate

It seems that one of the biggest events in confirmation preparation in this country is the letters of support to be given to the confirmation candidates during their mandatory retreats.

I have three such letters saved on this blog:

Confirmation letter to my daughterConfirmation letter to my fourth sonConfirmation letter to to my third son
I've asked my children what they remember about the letter they got from me and their dad, and also what they remembered about the letters they received. 
The answer was not much, or at least nothing specific. In general they were happy to have gotten a bag full of letters and there was a sense of feeling loved and supported. I guess that's the main thing - for them to have a sense that this is an important step in their spiritual growth, and that people they know, love and respect have taken the time out of their lives to let them know that! So here are some tips on procuring and writing letters for young confirmation candidates. Start thinkin…

Letting the doctor know

I guess I'm still in the anger part of my grief, and part of that anger is directed towards my mother's oncologist. This is partly because mom saw him regularly for a couple of years and the diagnosis of ovarian cancer was still missed! Ovarian cancer has been called the silent killer because there are no reliable screening tests for it. The translation means that doctors have to do it the old fashioned way, getting a good history, listening to the patient and being good clinicians. We use to call that skill.

The truth is there are a group of symptoms that could mean ovarian cancer.

So this is me blowing off a little steam with the oncologist.

Dear Doctor:

I am writing to let you know that my mother, died on June 22, 2009.

As you know, mom started complaining more and more of extreme fatigue and a loss of appetite late last year and into the 2009. At the time, I thought her myeloma was progressing and apparently you did too although my understanding is that for the most part it seemed to be under control and progressing slowly if at all. It was not until mom collapsed completely at the end of March and was hospitalized that Dr. K. made the unexpected diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

I now know that mom’s symptoms were classic signs for ovarian cancer. I have further learned that women who have had cancer before are at higher risks of having ovarian cancer. Mom of course had had bladder cancer and also the multiple myeloma.

I am writing now to let you know how disappointed I am that this was not caught sooner. I understand that there is no reliable “screening” mechanism for ovarian cancer. However, since my mother was seeing you regularly and her signs were classic for the disease AND since she already had cancer which made her at higher risk for ovarian cancer, I am astonished that this wasn’t picked up sooner.

In my opinion, you dropped the ball on this one. I don’t know if it would have made a difference if you had drawn a CA 125 earlier or if you had really listened to her and suspected ovarian cancer last December or January if it would have prolonged her life or not. But I do know that by the time it was found she was too weak to do the chemotherapy protocols and she never had a chance or a choice. And so now I am without my mother and my children no longer have a grandmother.

I know she was an 81-year-old woman with terminal cancer anyway, but before the ovarian cancer became symptomatic, she had a good, vibrant and productive life with her family and the community. Her life had meaning and was important to a lot of people. She mattered and I think it is tragic that this was not diagnosed sooner particularly since her symptoms were precisely what is presented on the Ovarian Cancer web site. I hold you partially responsible for this.

I would hope that in the future, if any other older women present this way that you would immediately suspect ovarian cancer and treat them accordingly.


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