There must be a class in medical school for bedside manner. I assume there’s a section on how to handle terminal illnesses. Furthermore, I bet the licensing exams always have a question on this topic. It’s the only way I can explain the consistency in advice I’ve received from physicians, including general practitioners, urologists, oncologists, and radiologists – in Texas and Florida. On the surface of it that seems a good thing, but the advice sucks.
It goes something like (usually exactly like) this “Don’t think about the cancer, it will drive you crazy.”
The problem is once you’ve been told you have cancer you can’t not think about it, it enters unbidden into your consciousness all the time. Literally anything can trigger it. The morning after I was diagnosed, the crisp morning air and rustle of leaves made me wonder how long cancer would allow me to experience this. Taking the meds, experiencing the side effects, making doctors appointments, attending the appointments, getting tests, reading/seeing news about cancer and deaths, working on wills, etc. all triggered thoughts of my cancer. The advice was worse than no advice at all. Every day I failed (and continue to fail) not thinking about cancer.
I hope they update the course and change the advice to something helpful like “You’re probably going to have thoughts about cancer frequently, that’s normal. It’s part of coming to terms with what’s happened to you. Don’t dwell on those thoughts, though. That will drive you crazy.”