I was lucky enough to spend time on the podcast of Dr. Michael Karlfeldt of the Karlfeldt Center
in Idaho. He is a big thinker and works tirelessly to bring innovative ideas and thinking to help
cancer patients. He had some really good insights that inspired me to write a few words. See
link to Dr. Karlfeldt’s site below.
In our conversation, he mentioned the “conveyor belt”. What he meant was the feeling that
many cancer patients feel during treatment as they transit a prescribed series of tests,
treatments, doctor visits and the like. This all starts soon after a cancer diagnosis and just
keeps going – always in motion and no time to stop or rest – just like a conveyor belt. As a
patient, it does seem like you are transited from station to station in a well-rehearsed series of
steps as you work through treatment.
As I thought about this conveyor belt analogy – I think it makes perfect sense to describe how
patients feel, especially early on in their treatment. Think about this:
- A conveyor belt just keeps moving. It rarely stops. This certainly describes the feelings
of newly diagnosed patients where things happen very quickly and at times on a
compressed timeline. It can feel like there is no time to catch your breath.
- A conveyor belt moves stuff from point A to point B, with little deviation. As a patient it
can feel like you are “put into the system” much like a conveyor. You go from one
prescribed step to the next, no delay, no deviation, no stopping.
- Conveyors treat everything on it exactly the same. This, I think, is a perception problem.
As a patient, it may feel that we are put on a belt and treated the same, in reality, your
care team has likely given a bunch of thought into handle YOUR particular case.
- Finally, I think as a patient, this analogy perfectly illustrates the feelings of stress that
result from the perception that things keep coming at you fast, without stopping and
with no pause.
The anecdote to the “conveyor belt” feeling:
- Take a breath, even for a few minutes (there are always a few minutes) to pause the
conveyor belt, if only in your mind.
- Ask a lot of questions – if you have a clear picture of where you are going on your
personal conveyor belt, the journey will feel much slower – and less stressful.
- If it all feels like too much to handle – raise your hand and ask for help – right now.
I wish you the best and know that, whatever you feel, your care team is most certainly not just
pushing you along a treatment path without a lot thought. Do your part to take action to help
things slow down in your head so you can “ride the conveyor” with the least stress possible.
Here is the link to The Karlfeldt Center – absolutely 100% worth checking out what they have to
offer – https://www.thekarlfeldtcenter.com