• I have a doctor who will dance around the bad news and find a way to spill it by sprinkling roses over it. And he's not good at it!

    Asked by Coloman on Sunday, June 21, 2020

    I have a doctor who will dance around the bad news and find a way to spill it by sprinkling roses over it. And he's not good at it!

    Do you have a doctor like this or does yours lay it all out there good, bad, and ugly? It's annoying that he won't just get to the point, but on the other hand I'm not sure how I would take the blunt truth. What do you think is the best way?

    11 Answers from the Community

    11 answers
    • JaneA's Avatar

      My surgeon and oncologist were always honest, but they weren't blunt and uncaring. There are a few patients who don't want to know the truth, but most of us want to know our scan results and tumor marker results. We have families, and we may still be working. We need to know how to plan and how to adjust our expectation.

      You will find that your surgeon will generally leave chemo/immunotherapy questions to the oncologist. The oncologist will defer to the surgeon about surgical questions. That is professional respect for each physician's expertise.

      When I got bad news, they usually followed up with an encouraging statement like "But I think that we can do so-and-so." We all need hope.

      I am a positive person, and I NEED a physician who has a sense of humor and "kick XXX" attitude. I've seen gloomy oncologists there at the practice where I've been treated. I couldn't endure a doctor who doesn't smile.

      16 days ago
    • Teachertina's Avatar

      My oncologist is so caring. He respects me as an adult who needs honesty. He gives me news that’s clear and tells me my options, answers my questions and makes sure I understand what is going on. After 14 years I truly trust him with my life. So far that’s working out very well! He has worked me through 3 rounds of cancer treatments successfully and I’m NED again! He is the best!

      16 days ago
    • cllinda's Avatar

      Mine always said the truth. No dancing around the issues. I think we need strong doctors to tell us the truth, even when it's hard to hear.

      16 days ago
    • Bengal's Avatar

      That has been one of my pet peeves throughout; doctors (not all) who don't give you the whole story. I guess the idea is to let you down easily and not overwhelm, releasing the truth in increments. I was told at first that my cancer was "nothing to worry about" only to be bluntly told at a later point that I was facing a year of chemo. Talk about being overwhelmed! I prefer the whole truth up front.

      16 days ago
    • Coloman's Avatar

      Thanks for the responses. I had one doctor that was very young. He was the first to tell me about my biopsy. He had the results in his hand in a file, he came into the exam room and said the usual how ya doing, good to see you, you look good, etc. Then he said I have your results, let me go get them. He left and came back maybe 5 minutes later and still beat around the bush. He never said, you have cancer. He said you have carcinoma. When I said what's that, he said its a condition in your colon that makes it turn on itself. Then he said it's "like cancer". I had to press him to the point to make him say if I had cancer or not. Most of the doctors I've seen so far are the opposite, they say you have xxxxxx and this is what it is, and what we will do.

      16 days ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I have also had both types of doctors. I can imagine it's difficult for them to always be delivering bad news. Of course, they also get to deliver some good news too. All I can say is bless them for doing what they do, no matter how they deliver the news, bless them for the path that they have chosen to help those of us that need them.

      16 days ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar

      My oncologist had to tell me that a new spot showed up on my last scan. He started out by saying how good my blood tests were, that the tumors that have been there for 7 years are still stable ... and finally he got to the fact that the scan picked up a new spot that may or may not be malignant. I guess he might have been dancing around a bit before telling me what could be bad news... However, the radiologist who read the scan also showed the fact that there was a new spot as point #3 on the "highlights of the scan"

      I've really always felt like he is a straight-shooter. He tells you how it is - but I guess he couches things in hope...

      I would never want a doctor that doesn't tell me the truth, but I also am blessed to have one that (1) always sees hope and (2) doesn't give up on any patient until the patient himself or herself says, "enough."

      16 days ago
    • po18guy's Avatar

      All that I can say is that I was perfectly matched up with the hematologist who had, just the year before, decided to focus on the rare lymphomas - one of which I was subsequently diagnosed with. He was relentlessly thinking ahead and never gave up - which I found encouraging. His philosophy is 1) patient empowerment and 2) to remain "three steps ahead" of the lymphoma, having options to present in all cases. Through two relapses and two additional cancers he never hung his head or gave up. Just last year, I asked him, for the first time, if he was optimistic when he first saw me in 2008. "No" was his immediate reply. He never gave evidence of that, and it encouraged me along the journey. IMO, cancer is no time to dwell on bad news. It is a fight and winning is the goal - otherwise, why fight?

      16 days ago
    • Sasukesuma's Avatar

      My first diagnosis was delivered to me by an ER doctor. Definitely blunt and to the point. “You don’t have diverticulitis, you have cancer and it has metastasized “ Then he turned around and left the room. My second was from my oncologist last week. “Have you seen your numbers. It’s not good news.” Then he continued to talk with me about wat would be next. I’ll take the second one

      16 days ago
    • legaljen1969's Avatar

      I have to say my doctors have been very compassionate, but all have been very direct. None of them have danced around the news. My mammogram last November revealed calcifications, and I was scheduled for a follow up mammogram a week later. It revealed results indicative of very early stage breast cancer. All of my mammograms have been done at the local Naval Hospital since my husband is retired from the military. Military hospitals and military doctors are not usually the most flowery folks around, but my care has never been anything but top notch.

      My current PCM at the Naval Hospital put in a referral for me to the breast care team. They were trying to put things off until the beginning of 2020 but he was not having any of it. He called in some favors and got me scheduled just after Thanksgiving. He said he saw no need for them to be waiting and if they wouldn't schedule me right away, he was going to find another place that would start the process immediately. He is very proactive. He told me I should be prepared for them to tell me my biopsy revealed cancer, but if it didn't we would be having a great celebration.

      My surgeon was very nice, but she was unfortunately the one who seemed to always have to call me with the "bad news." She was always very kind but she didn't mess around- trying to put lipstick on a pig, so to speak. Her delivery always felt like worst case scenario. The original plan was a lumpectomy in late January and then a course of radiation 5x/week for 6 weeks. So the next set of appointments was with the radiation and medical oncologists on New Years Eve. LOL Yeah, I was hoping I was going to get the bad out of the way in 2019 and start 2020 on a positive note, Little did I know what a mess this year would be, in general.

      The radiation oncologist was very kind. He explained everything in very clear terms and gave me lots of material to read. The medical oncologist was equally as nice and didn't seem at all put out by these New Years Eve appointments. I guess cancer doesn't take a vacation. Anyhow, he put me even more at ease. He explained that my cancer was very early stage and very treatable. He is very conservative in his treatment approach, not over treating or rushing immediately to chemotherapy suggestions.

      I suppose if you have a good treatment team, let them play good cop/bad cop. I don't know that my treatment team had that sort of "plan" with me, but there always seemed to be the dreadful meeting with the surgeon and then a "life isn't all that tragic" meeting with the oncologist- realistic but much more positive.

      If you prefer a more direct approach, let your doctor know that. Especially if he isn't good at dancing around the subject.

      16 days ago
    • schweetieangel's Avatar

      I've also had a combonation of both.my main oncologist is very open and honest but with a great bed side manner in the way she breaks news to you. Also draws pics so you can understand more where the cancer is.
      When she went on maternity leave the Dr that replaced her basically said bluntly your cancer is going to come back. (He was right) but the way he told me was kinda rude. He also wouldn't refill my nausea meds and when I brought it up to him when I saw him he said "I'm not that much of an XXX"
      But apparently he was.lol
      He did get a lit if complaints as my oncologist asked about him when she got back and he didn't stay on the team.

      14 days ago

    Help the community by answering this question:

    Create an account to post your answer Already have an account? Sign in!

    By using WhatNext, you agree to our User Agreement, and Privacy Policy

    Read and answer more colorectal (colon) cancer questions.  Also, don't forget to check out our Colorectal (Colon) Cancer page.