STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

Strength in Numbers dedicated to my late mother Kay

What I learned as a cancer patient will make me a better doctor

All cancer doctors deal with harrowing stories. Like many, I had coped during my six years as a consultant oncologist at the Christie, by adopting a firm belief that it could never happen to me. Unsurprising then, my sense of shock when, just over a year ago, I left my busy gastric cancer clinic to receive the results of my own biopsy, taken from a breast lump the week before. If I am totally honest I knew what was coming. The mammograms and ultrasound scan had left me with little doubt, but I had clung to the slim hope it was just a big scare.

Despite years of training in clinical communication skills, I now know how it is that patients only recall the first sentence when bad news is broken. “I have the results of your biopsy and I am afraid it is not good news”, is what I heard my surgeon say. I had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The rest of the consultation passed in a blur. In that moment it felt like my whole identity had been turned on its head. I was no longer a cancer doctor, I was a cancer patient with all the fears and questions that anyone faced with that diagnosis experiences: how will I cope? Who will look after the children? What will happen with work? Will my husband manage? Will I die?

http://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/views-from-the-nhs-frontline/2015/jan/05/learned-cancer-patient-better-doctor?

ReceptionA friendly word from the receptionist, or the secretary you call to check on a lost appointement can make all the difference to someone with cancer. Photograph: Alamy

Filed under: Cancer, Uncategorized, , ,

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