Things you don’t want your consultant to say and what they really mean

People come in all shapes and sizes and cancer consultants are amazing people. Amazingly well-educated, amazingly dedicated and doing an amazingly difficult job. There’s no easy way to tell another human being one of the worst possible pieces of news they’re ever likely to hear.  My consultant is very, very good but the English language leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to saying “yes you have cancer and this is what it means.”  Here’s a little crib sheet:

Consultant: “this looks highly suspicious”   Means:  It’s a good job you came because I think you’re right, it’s cancer.

Consultant: “the MRI shows a number of anomalies”  Means: you light up like a Christmas tree. It might be more bad news but we can’t tell until we do more tests.

Consultant: “this is treatable” Means: medicine still struggles to cure this one but we will do everything we can

Consultant: “it’s a good job we went for mastectomy” Means: there was a hell of a lot more going on in there than we realised, fortunately your surgery dealt with that too 🙂

Consultant: “Herceptin has changed things but you need chemo to get Herceptin” Means: no-one ever has chemotherapy by choice, you have no choice

Consultant: “Even if you aren’t BRCA positive we should talk about your ovaries” Means: yep, those little blighters will need to go too!

Consultant: “You’re probably aware of some of chemo’s side effects” Means: society barely copes with the thought of hair loss and vomiting, I’m the poor sod who has to tell you the rest……..

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