Tuesday, May 29, 2007

HTT, my doctor is sick...can I send a card?

I've been going to the same doctor for about seven years and I really like him as a person. I had an appointment with him yesterday for the first time in about a year and he has cancer. He didn't say anything, but when he walked in the room I knew. He was so thin and had the look of someone in the middle of chemotherapy. It shocked me and broke my heart. Once he left the room, the nurse confirmed my suspicions and said that he is very sick and doesn't work very much anymore. He's not old and was a very active man.

I want to acknowledge his illness and let him know I'm thinking about him. Is it inappropriate for me (a patient) to send him a card? Is it an inappropriate thing to do in general?

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I think it’s rarely inappropriate to show care and compassion. I would send the card.

There is a chance your doctor would prefer his illness were a private matter, but his obvious poor health coupled with acknowledgment of such from the nurse lead me to believe he’s probably accepted the idea that people know.

You’ve liked him for seven years. You are saddened that he’s sick. Go ahead and send the card.

HTT

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree that it's OK to send a card... in fact, I think it's more than OK, and is definitely the thing to do.

As a (very lucky) cancer survivor, I know that people often just don't know WHAT to say when they find out. I still don't know what to say when I find out that someone has a serious illness, or has undergone some other tragedy.

But I remember how hurt I was when a group of former co-workers found out that I needed surgery (they didn't know it was cancer), and NOT ONE of them took the time to send a card or eMail or phone me. So I tend to err on the side of saying something, ANYTHING, even if it's simply "Gee that really sucks--I don't know what to say!" At least it acknowledges the situation, and lets the other person know that you care.

Anonymous said...

I agree.

"I think it’s rarely inappropriate to show care and compassion. I would send the card."

Can't state it any better than that!

Faith said...

OK, as a response to this, I HAVE to type in a quote from a book that I'm reading. The book is 'As I Live and Breathe,' by Jamie Weisman. She is a doctor who also has a life-threatening chronic illness, so she writes as someone who has been on both sides of the doctor-patient relationship.

Writing about greeting a doctor who had done miraculous surgery on her, who had just been diagnosed with an inevitably fatal cancer, she realizes afterwards that she should have, in some way, acknowledged the gravity of his illness. She writes:

"I would like to have told Dr. Gussack that although I knew I could do nothing to change the course of his disease, at least I recognized its basic injustice; at least I could be angry and sad for him, with him... I wish that I could have made Dr. Gussack feel less alone by simply acknowledging the tragedy of what was happening to him instead of standing there blindly and insisting that nothing had changed, when, in fact, for him everything had changed."

Somehow this seemed pertinent to the situation described.