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False Cancer Reassurance Hurts

Dismissing or minimizing patients' doubts and worries can make them feel worse.
PUBLISHED June 27, 2016
As a psychologist specializing in clinician-patient communication, Greg has worn a few hats: university professor, associate dean, foundation executive and independent consultant. Diagnosed in January 2014 with high-grade carcinoma of the head and neck, he underwent extensive surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment over the next five months. He and his wife Suzanne reside in Connecticut and are profoundly grateful to all the oncology professionals, staff and survivors who treat and support them.
Please don’t tell me
you know I’ll be fine.
Wishing isn’t knowing.
The journey is mine.
Words, though meant to console,
pierce my heart, dull my mind
while soothing the source’s
emotional bind.
I can’t know for sure
what others may feel.
Their calm may be earnest,
their confidence real.
My speech is halting.
My joking feels lame.
Emotions collide,
camouflage the brain.
Restless, unsure
and numbingly slow,
my thoughts drift along
with my old self in tow.
The healing takes time,
a new normal I’m told.
The new part makes sense.
When does normal take hold?
Wishing isn’t knowing.
The journey is mine.
Please don’t tell me       
you know I’ll be fine.
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