Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.
As a cancer surgeon, these are some of my favorite things I have the opportunity to tell cancer survivors during an office visit:
- “Things look absolutely perfect!”
- “Unless I knew where to look, I wouldn’t even be able to tell where your cancer used to be.”
- “The cancer has completely disappeared … the entire area has healed.”
- “I do not see or feel anything that worries me at all.”
- “We don’t need to have you return for another cancer check-up for at least six more months.”
- “I can tell that you are taking great care of yourself.”
- “It is terrific that you have quit smoking!”
Physicians are not always the best communicators with either good news or bad news. When someone has cancer, I have learned to use the word “cancer,” and not words like “tumor,” “growth,” or “problem.”
Similarly, when things are going well, I have learned to tell people good news in the strongest possible, positive terms. Using the phrases listed above makes patients happy and lets them know that things are going well.
And, I have to tell you, it makes me happy, as well. I LOVE giving people good news.