18 comments on “What to Say to a Newly Diagnosed Cancer Patient

  1. Duly noted.

    As a side note, I think we’re taught specific ways to approach patients and how to stay empathic, not sympathetic. Unfortunately, sometimes it comes out rehearsed and doesn’t come across the way it should. Not to mention that we get this false hope through med school that we can 100% fix people, take away all their suffering. I guess it’s more important to acknowledge the suffering, rather than pretend it doesn’t exist.

    • I didn’t do a very good job expressing myself. It’s not empathy or sympathy I have an issue with. It also isn’t about being rehearsed, I felt all the physicians comments were heartfelt at the time. It’s that what they were advising me to do, specifically to not think about cancer, wasn’t possible for me to do.

      I wanted guidance that mapped to what I could do and reflected what I was going to experience.Telling me that it was normal to think about cancer would have been a big help. Advising me to not dwell on cancer was achievable, telling me to not think about cancer was impossible. I was doomed to fail and feel worse.

  2. I like your idea. Ten years ago, I had an incredible doctor who told me eye to eye that I had cancer. I wept, he let me weep and I ran into him just 2 weeks ago at a fabulous restaurant ( mistral) in Boston . Cancer free but his steady gaze at that awful appt had kept me going. I credit so much of my recovery to that he treated me with respect. ( and you know me! I even asked him why he had this horrible job)

  3. I know exactly what you mean. As soon as you tell me not to think about it, it will be all I think about. The day I got told, my world caved in and the doc’s words, while well intentioned, did little to comfort me.

  4. Boy, you’re not kidding that anything can be a reminder about the big ‘C’… I’m on my way to being cured of leukemia- and am truly very thankful and fortunate, but I always wonder what is going on if some goofy symptom comes up. I’m an RN- I can think of all sorts of horrific possibilities. This year, after getting off of chemo, I had nearly everything I could think of examined and/or scanned. I wanted a baseline of the new normal. *sigh* I never used to think about too many ‘what ifs’. I just carried on- but the thought of going through chemo again, or having something lopped off is scary, and it hasn’t even happened.

  5. Sorry you’re going through this. This is helpful information for me to hear first hand- I will definitely use this in the patient and HCP counseling materials that I write. Thanks for putting yourself out there, and good luck.

  6. This reminds me of my friend Cole. Not a day goes by where I can’t help but wonder how he’s doing or what he’s thinking. Thanks for sharing this.

      • Your reply literally brought tears to my eyes; it was heartwarming to hear, and seemed to ointment the deep cut in my heart a little. I will pray for you when I do for Cole. Thank you so much.

  7. I can’t find any “contact me” information on the blog, which is why I’m leaving this here. Please feel free to delete it.

    This is a wonderful post and I’d love to put it up as a guest post on my blog. May I have your permission? You can contact me by email at knotellin11 [at] gmail [dot] com. Please do consider it!

    Thank you.

    • By all means! This any anything else you feel might be of value to anyone. I do need to add contact info. BTW, if you go to my Gravatar contact info is there, but that’s no excuse. I’m in the process of moving around email accounts so this is a good time to fix it!

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