Think HOPE, not Hospice

So consider this a bit of a vent…For a long time, I’ve been an advocate of retraining our cancer doctors when it comes to saying those awful words to a patient.

“YOU have cancer.”

We’ve talked about this many times.  That sentence is a world stopper.  Nothing is ever the same again….NOTHING.

And I understand how doctors put it out there because the truth is important to hear.  I’m good so far.  But what comes after that is where I draw the line.  I bet most patients hear those words and the first question they have for their doctor is “How much time do I have?”

It’s here where from my corner, I wish the doctor would stop, take a breath and think long and hard before answering that question with a time stamp.  How a doctor answers that question can mean the difference between living and dying to a patient.  Some patients hear “3 to 6 months” of “maybe a year” and not only does their mind shutdown, but it seems like their body does too.

This comes up today, because I had a phone conversation with a friend who told me about a 74 year old man who was just diagnosed with live cancer.  His doctor told him he probably has less than a year to live and within a couple days of that conversation, that man is now in hospice and has simply given up living.

Words carry heavy burdens in cancer world.  Cancer doctors have the hardest job in the world but they need to think quickly and carefully when their patient asks that question “How much time do I have?”

Think HOPE, not Hospice.

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Judie March 17, 2017 at 9:56 am

I completely agree that the docs need to think about how to or even whether or not to answer that question. Mine didn’t mention a prognosis either time he told me that I have cancer. I still don’t know (after 25 years) if that is his way or if he sensed that it wouldn’t be wise in my case. Will the patient give up or turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy OR will the patient say “oh, yeah?” When I’ve ever needed to go to a new specialist, the first thing I tell them is that I don’t know and I don’t want to know.

Please think about it doctors.

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