There is always a way to be honest without being brutal.
“The oncologist mentioned the possibility of some newer treatments,” his wife tells me.
I look at him doubtfully. Placebo-light? I think to myself. Pretend-imab?
“Oh,” I say.
He slumps in the exam chair, listing sideways, searching for an imaginary support that is not there. He occupies only a fraction of the space he filled four years ago when he first came to my office – before his first surgery, before radiation therapy, before the last round of salvage chemotherapy, before the latest frightening scans.
He looks up, staring at me from the depths of his being. “Doc,” he whispers, “is this thing curable?”
I move closer and rest my hand on his fragile arm. I have known him for a long time. “No.” I search their faces. “You will die with this cancer.”
His eyebrows rise momentarily but there is a smile at the corner of his mouth. “Doc," he says, "Thank you.”
I look at his wife. She shifts. “No one has told us that before.” She pauses then continues. “We talked about it ahead of time and we knew you would be straight with us.” Share on Facebook
The following is feedback received for this blog:
Your kindness to them required courage and integrity. Thank you for sharing this tender "moment".