• Someone told me that they were give the results of biopsy and told they had cancer over the phone, while driving down the highway!

    Asked by GregP_WN on Monday, June 27, 2016

    Someone told me that they were give the results of biopsy and told they had cancer over the phone, while driving down the highway!

    How were you told, in person, in an exam room, or over the phone. Did the Doctor deliver the news or one of their assistants?

    39 Answers from the Community

    39 answers
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar
      BuckeyeShelby

      Well, crud! Can't imagine getting the news while driving. I was in recovery room following a hernia repair. It was my general surgeon (who is also a surgical oncologist) who delivered the news. He would be sending me for further testing, as he could not determine the primary site. I really don't remember much of what he said after "adenocarcinoma"...

      almost 2 years ago
    • Ejourneys' Avatar
      Ejourneys

      While DRIVING? On the HIGHWAY? Holy [expletive deleted]!

      I was told over the phone, but I was at home. My GP called me and was very brief -- something along the lines of, "They found cancer." The first words out of my mouth were, "What stage?" (I had no idea it would take time to find that out.) The rest of the call was my GP telling me to come in as a walk-in rather than make an appointment because she could see me sooner that day. I drove about 15 miles to her office; she handed me the pathology report and told me what it meant. She said the next step was to talk to a surgeon and was ready to make a pre-surgical consult appointment for me then and there. I told her I wanted to do my own research and asked her how long before she needed a decision from me.

      After I got home I spent a few hours on the Web. I also got guidance from the two calls I made that day, one to the American Cancer Society's resource center and the other to the facilitator of my breast cancer support group. (I had already started gathering info "just in case," since it took about a month between the time of my screening mammogram and the results of my biopsy coming in, with diagnostic mammo and ultrasound in-between.) I faxed my GP a memo in the middle of the night with my first and second choice of surgeon and the rest is history.

      I forget whether I told my partner before or after I had seen my GP. My partner's response was, "So! How long do you think it will be before we can look back on this and laugh?" I said, "I haven't the foggiest idea." (Actually, I believe I used somewhat stronger language than that.) I had been keeping my Facebook friends in the loop through all the diagnostic tests. I posted that I had been given my marching orders and asked for (and got) fight vibes.

      almost 2 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      Well that person's odds of surviving for the next 5 years are very low. I'm sorry it is just that talking on the phone while driving is one of my pet peeves. It not only lowers the odds of the driver's survival it also lowers the odds of my survival.
      My first cancer conformation came in a sealed envelope. My daughter had come to take me to the endoscopy and she had rented a motel room for my recovery. The Dr. had asked if I wanted to have him share his report or did I want him to give it my daughter in a sealed envelope. I opted for a sealed envelope. As I was coming out of the anesthesia, I was too chicken to open the envelope. So it stayed on the dresser in the motel room. But my sister called and she said she was in town with her grandkids was, I said I was so we took "the envelope over with us. I still did not have the courage to open it, so I gave it to my sister. I am so glad I did in it was the entire report of the endoscopy (very graphic) My sisters words were "That's ugly. This sucks" This probably was the best way the news could be delivered.

      almost 2 years ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      I got my "sealed envelope" over the phone. I'd gone to a breast surgeon; she did a needle biopsy in her office (hurt!) and her secretary called me four hours after, while I was at work. My partner and I saw that doctor that night. She was highly skilled but cold, and I ended up with a wonderful breast surgeon at MSK and never looked back.

      almost 2 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      That beats my (horrid) tale of having to chase down the surgeon and actually lie about my identity to get the surgeon to come to the phone more than 10 days after the recission & biopsy.

      "You have cancer. I didn't get it all. Find an oncologist."

      And he hung up the phone.

      I dont know if people are stupider, more stressed, unable to empathize or what but telling a person who is driving is amongst the least admirable of timing skills.

      Soon they will just have a machine spit out a text.

      almost 2 years ago
    • Jane1212's Avatar
      Jane1212

      I got a call from my GYN early on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I had had the biopsy on Wednesday. She said she didn't want to have to call me at work with the news (Thank You!) and that the cancer was well defined so a good type to have but would necessitate a hysterectomy and at my age she highly recommended ovary removal as well and that her office had already secured the first available appointment with the only onc surgeon she would recommend. As far as receiving this sort of news, it was good. Ha! A good way to receive bad news I guess.

      almost 2 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      I am really lucky that my Medical Center gets results to you as soon as they get them to the Dr. weather you want them or not. I always like to have a Dr. explain the results of the tests even if I have to wait.

      almost 2 years ago
    • PennieEckard's Avatar
      PennieEckard

      That is ridiculous! Hard to believe a physician would be so incentive to deliver that type of news while his/her patient was driving. I just don't understand. So sad. How could he think of questions to ask. All I can say is I feel bad for the patient.

      almost 2 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      The Dr. had no way of knowing the patient was driving. Cell phones should not be answered while driving.

      almost 2 years ago
    • Bug's Avatar
      Bug

      Good grief. The doc called me. I remember sitting at the kitchen table talking to him and being in a fog. I grabbed a yellow 3 X 3 Post-it pad and scribbled notes as he spoke. I had about a dozen stickies to sort through when we finished talking. My husband had left that morning for a business trip. Fortunately, he was only gone two nights. I have a sister who lives about three hours away but, unbeknownst to me, was about an hour and a half away on business. I called her and instead of going home after her meeting she came and spent the night with me. A friend stayed the second night.

      almost 2 years ago
    • Lynne-I-Am's Avatar
      Lynne-I-Am

      My experience was similar. The day after I had taken a CT scan, my husband and I were on our way to my daughter's for a visit. We were about an hour from home, when my husband's cell phone rang, he was driving , so I answered it. My doctor's nurse was on the line and wanted to know when I could come in to discuss the results of my scan. Right away I knew it was bad. She told me I could come in that afternoon, a Friday, or wait until Monday. Wait two days ? We took the next exit and headed back. I had told her that we were about an hour and a half away and might not make it before the five o'clock closing time. She responded, the doctor will wait. All the way back up the freeway, I knew, knew it was cancer, and I was right.

      almost 2 years ago
    • gonewest's Avatar
      gonewest

      I was told in the office several days after the biopsy by my very upset doctor. I had a friend drive me to that appointment.

      almost 2 years ago
    • meyati's Avatar
      meyati

      I told my doctors--

      almost 2 years ago
    • 3tykes' Avatar
      3tykes

      I was told over the phone while at work by the nurse. She just came out and said it....no trying to make small talk...or anything. I was a mess and in shock and had to call my husband to come pick me up to take me home.

      almost 2 years ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar
      LiveWithCancer

      My husband and I had just pulled up to a restaurant to eat lunch when I got the phone call telling me I had lung cancer.

      almost 2 years ago
    • pattiep's Avatar
      pattiep

      Wow!!! Driving!!
      The doctor that did my biopsy called me at work. I'm a teacher. Basically just said I had cancer and to call the breast surgeon. Five minutes later I was teaching a Geometry class and SURPRISE- being evaluated. This was my first day back to work from my Nana's funeral, too. The day is a completely awful blur.

      almost 2 years ago
    • pattiep's Avatar
      pattiep

      Wow!!! Driving!!
      The doctor that did my biopsy called me at work. I'm a teacher. Basically just said I had cancer and to call the breast surgeon. Five minutes later I was teaching a Geometry class and SURPRISE- being evaluated. This was my first day back to work from my Nana's funeral, too. The day is a completely awful blur.

      almost 2 years ago
    • pinkpal57's Avatar
      pinkpal57

      I was told by phone both times. Once in my office and the second time in my car.

      almost 2 years ago
    • andreacha's Avatar
      andreacha

      My primary, who first suspected something seriously wrong with me ordered a heart echo. I was gone for a day and a half after that. When I got back I had messages from his office. I called in, he was in with a patient and would call me right back. He did just that." You have a tumor in your heart and you have to be hospitalized immediately. Pack a bag for several days and go to the local hospital to be stabilized and I'll see you there later today. I'll let them know you are coming." He came as promised and that's when I was told that, yes, there was a tumor in the right chamber of my heart. It originated in my right kidney and grew up through the blood vessel into the heart." I'm transferring you to Atlanta tomorrow. It is all arranged. You will meet your new Oncologist there." He was frantic on the phone because he hadn't been able to contact me. I finally got to come home 10 weeks later. One day in his office he told me that he had never given anyone bad news like that on the phone and he was sick about it. I can't lie and say I remained calm. I just couldn't think straight. I called a neighbor and told her and she came and helped me pack a suitcase and even drove me to the hospital. Sure did a lot of crying that day!

      almost 2 years ago
    • Russ' Avatar
      Russ

      I too was told over the phone by a nurse practitioner. I had a cat scan done on a Thursday, and I had taken that Friday off. This was before I had any cell phone...Oct. 2000. We were not home to receive any calls and I was not at work to receive any calls. When I got to work on Monday there was a message from my doctor's office to call them as soon as I received this message. I called and they hooked me up with the nurse practitioner who told me that it looked like pancreatic cancer, and they had already made an appointment for me to see a doctor at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. After the call I just sat in my chair and stared out the window of my office, Atlantic City, NJ Bally's Casino. One of my employees came into my office to say good morning, and she asked me if I was okay. I told her about the call I had just received, and asked her to close my door on the way out. I first called my wife and told her about what they said, and she said "why don't you just come home." I told her I would call her when I was on my way. I then called my boss, who's office was at Caesars, and I told him It looks as though I have pancreatic cancer, and that I was going home to be with my wife. He asked me if I wanted to come over to his office first, and I told him I would be there in a few minutes. It takes me about 6-8 minutes to walk to his office. When I got there he closed the door behind me...I sat down and cried like a baby. I apologized for my outburst, but he said no problem. He told me to take as much time as I needed, and to let him know what the doctors at UofP says. I then went to get my car in the management lot, and when I reached my car, I turned around and looked at the building where my office was, and I said to myself..."this just doesn't matter anymore." I called my wife and told her I was on my way home. The rest I history, and here I am some 15 years+ later. My best to all of you. Russ

      almost 2 years ago
    • Sharlie's Avatar
      Sharlie

      I got the call from my PCP about 5 p.m. on a Friday evening. Luckily I was at home, but since I was expecting the call, I would have taken the call no matter where I was. I do not like using my phone while driving but would have made an exception in that case. In my case, if I had let it go to voicemail and then tried to reach her back when I was able to stop the car, I wouldn't have been able to reach her until the following Monday and I would have been going crazy all weekend. It would have been after hours and my call would have gone to the answering service.

      almost 2 years ago
    • spdsgrl's Avatar
      spdsgrl

      My GI doctor, who I had just meet that day, told me in the recovery room after colonoscopy with my mother and husband present that he was certain I had cancer based on what he saw
      I was fully awake and understood what he was explaining. I havent had any memory loss after coming out of anesthesia. (I comforted my husband and mom and actually remember more than they do. :-) ) The doctor immediately gave me the names of the people he believed are the best oncologist, surgeon and radiation oncologist in town (none were out of his hospital or practice, and the oncologists and surgeon were also in different practices and hospitals from each other).
      The same doctor called me personally at home in the late evening (around 8pm) and told me the results of the biopsy himself. I got in with all the doctors he recommended immediately and had a port in plane started treatments all within about 10 days. (Chemo and radiation before surgery, surgery then more chemo, 6 months later another ostomy reversal surgery was first plan of attack.
      ...there have been more since the Mets ;-/)

      I am forever grateful for my GI doctor. He was compassionate, caring and incredibly personable and approachable. He was right about all the doctors he recommended. They were ALL phenomenal and I honestly believe he gave me the best doctors in the city for my cancer. He didn't care about hospital or practice loyalty or even his friends (my oncolgist lnew who he was, but isn't really close to him or anything). He only cared about me getting the best care and chances for survival. The only thing that has changed over the last 4 years is the surgeon. I had one from my tumor board team (which they formed after my initial surgery & then iliostomy reversal 6 months later) remove lymph nodes and do another biopsy when became stage IV with mets.

      I am totally happy with how I was told, the doctors he recommended and the new surgeon I last used and will use again if I need more surgery. I completely trust my oncologist.But, if I have moments of doubt he is totally supportive of second opinions. Which I have only done once in 4 1/2 years.

      almost 2 years ago
    • Phoenix76's Avatar
      Phoenix76

      It's tough news no matter where you are, but I have to agree with #BoiseB. The doctor didn't know where he/she was at the time. Don't take a phone call (even BlueTooth) when driving down a highway! That is SO DANGEROUS!!! Studies have been done that show that talking on a cell phone while driving = DUI. Please, folks - put the phone down or pull over. Driving requires your FULL attention, especially these days when there's so little consideration shown (no signals, cutting right in front of another car, tailgating, etc.). Thanks!

      I took the call from the doctor...in my car...for privacy...at my workplace...PARKED in a parking lot.

      almost 2 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar
      GregP_WN

      My first two diagnoses I was told at the Doctor's office by the Doctor. My third I was given the results of the biopsy over the phone, in my office. But this was from a Doctor that I have known for a few years through work, and he was sure that I was OK with talking about it over the phone.

      almost 2 years ago
    • msesq's Avatar
      msesq

      I am a state court judge. I got the news via telephone from the radiologist who did my biopsy minutes before I was scheduled to get on the bench and do short calendar (100+ cases in a day). To this day I still don't know how I managed to hold it together and get through the days work.

      almost 2 years ago
    • mdybas' Avatar
      mdybas

      I also was told over the phone. I actually was on my way to Vegas and had just stopped at Starbucks for coffee. My radiologist called to give me the news, and then 5 minutes later my gynecologist. I work in the medical field and it was a Friday so they were all ok with telling me over the phone. I just went into auto mode and asked what the next steps were. I sat there in the parking lot making calls and setting up appointments. Then my husband said we would turn around and go home. I said heck no!!!! We can't do anything until next week, let's go have fun! And we went to Vegas!!

      almost 2 years ago
    • Ramlynkun's Avatar
      Ramlynkun

      That's exactly how I got the news. I was driving to my next patient's home, I'm a hospice nurse, and the doctor called and said can you talk. I said sure go ahead. Your biopsy came back positive for cancer. We will be treating you very aggressively. To be honest I don't remember what was said after that I just drove to my patients house took care of them and then drove home.

      almost 2 years ago
    • Janetspringer's Avatar
      Janetspringer

      My doctors hinted in the office, but I did not get confirmation until after the biopsies. I did have trouble getting the oncologist to call me back.

      almost 2 years ago
    • CASSIEME1's Avatar
      CASSIEME1

      THE RADIOLOGIST BLUNTLY STATED WHILE DRAWING A BIOPSY "OH BY THE WAY ITS CANCER", MY DAUGHTER WAS HYSTERICAL.I COULDNT EVEN CRY. I WAS NUMB.I FOUND CRYING DOESNT HELP

      almost 2 years ago
    • meyati's Avatar
      meyati

      OK-- I spent over 25 years trying to get an odd 'zit' looking thing off. All types of surgeons, same dermatologist for several years, etc. I even sat naked as a Jay Bird for dermatology students for 3 years. I was called names and treated rudely.

      I showed it to a PCP and he said- Do you know Congressman Steve Schiff? I just got the same chills that I get when people talk about him. When I went to the surgeon for the biopsy-she said almost the same thing-but her stomach went sick. Congressman Schiff died in 18 months from stage 1 SCC. Even Israeli and german doctors tried to save his life. His was known as Spread by scalpel- and he had his on his ear for a few months.

      But they said- It can't be a cancer- they don't look like that.

      4 days after the biopsy, I was covered with cancers in that area. I called the surgeon--I have an agressive cancer. Part of my nose, a section of lip, flesh and skin was removed on the second . I had huge cancers in that area. A lot of them. I got into my PCP- he looked at me-nose sideway, stitches inside my mouth-nose- all over my face. He went to the phone and called oncology and registered me without a biopsy report. he screamed- I can see the eFFing cancer- she needs to get in now. I actually saw an oncologist before the official report was in.

      So, I told doctors that I had cancer. Lots of doctors.

      almost 2 years ago
    • derbygirl's Avatar
      derbygirl

      I was told about the tumor over the phone from Dr. Bradford but I was at home. When I worked in a doctors office, I saw the doctor I worked with have to give patients bad news and then they had to go to check out and walk out through the waiting room and they were crying and I always thought that had to feel so horrible. Not only did they just get the worst news possible but they others could see this as well. So when I got the news over the phone, I was in my own home and the only thing I had to do was hang up the phone and collapse on the sofa crying with my Mom sitting right there next to me to help me get through it all. Then when I went in for my visit 2 days later, I had it all cried out and I could sit and listen to him and actually hear what steps he was taking with my treatments. But I could never imagine driving and getting this kind of news because the person could have an accident because they were so upset by this news.

      almost 2 years ago
    • andreacha's Avatar
      andreacha

      Meyati -- such a horrible story. Am so sorry. I can only imagine how frustrating that must have been.

      almost 2 years ago
    • meyati's Avatar
      meyati

      Thank you---It makes it hard for a doctor to care for me. At this point I almost wonder what the scam is when one wants to care for me. I have a very good radilogy oncologist. Because of my prickly attitude-I'm not rude-I just want to be in control- Anyway I was at the stage of follow up where it's easy to drop out- patients start feeling safe-So he asked if I still wanted follow up or change to other doctors. I know that my follow up is important for helping other nose cancer patients, so no, I didn't want to change or drop out. He saved my life. He almost fainted when I told him that he was truely the only doctor that I trust. I've been scared that insurance would say- no more follow up.

      I actually ran into somebody the other day that was starting radiation for almost the same thing. They didn't do the second biopsy to reduce disfigurement-because the first biopsy caused more cancers- a different type of cancer-different looking, and she was on the rare beef, egg, whole milk-now they say Ice Cream malts instead of milk shakes. Us head cancer patients have a hard time keeping weight on, even after treatment stops. Everybody told me that radiation wouldn't work at all- I was the first one that had this treatment- at least the first one that lived.

      An irony is that I've gone from MD Anderson and the Regional Cancer Center trying to keep me from their door step, to every Tom, Dick, and harry trying to recruit me so they can get the fame in me surviving for however longer I am supposed to be on this planet.

      I was diagnosed with a cancer on the face that is bad advertising and breast cancer patients and their families complain about seeing it-so many clinics run us off-one clinic that I go to- the first doctor and the director tried to run me off-they found that a cursing face cancer patient at the desk was worse advertising for the clinic. In Florida- the clinics can get rid of patients like me-I've known several that told me they were given their records and turned away-they went to other clinics that threatened to call the police on them. My state doesn't allow that.

      It's common to make appointments, and when you check in- Your people aren't there and nobody else can see you-go home- we'll call you in a few days-but they don't call-- Another one is to make several appointments in different sites at the very same time and day. They made one downtown, one at the radiation clinic in a different part of town, and one at that clinic. Nobody would reschedule for me, because the Nurse Navigator made those-and she had to reschedule. I picked 2 places to reschedule and I went up and caused pandemonium. Radiation treatment wasn't a problem---they fit me in the next day. Set me way up on the list.

      I'm set up pretty good now.

      almost 2 years ago
    • Kebohs' Avatar
      Kebohs

      The preliminary result of needle biopsy was in my surgeons office and it was thought that I did not have cancer but, my surgeon said its not conclusive until the final report comes in About 5 days then I got the phone call that I had squamous cell carcinoma on my tonsil remnant. I scheduled surgery within about a week. I was blown away at first. Boy, if I was driving I would have ran off the road!

      almost 2 years ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      Meyati, it's so cruel, how some medical people, and other patients, responded to you and other head-and-neck-cancer patients. How ignorant and uncompassionate! And, it seems to me, the medical staffers are not acting in accordance with the Hippocratic Oath they took (though I guess only doctors and nurses, not the office staff, have taken that oath). I know many of us have had poor or even harmful treatment by doctors or others involved in "healing," and unless we want to (and can) spend time suing these people, there's not much recourse against them - other than doing what you did: loudly insist on being treated better.

      What I'm saying is very obvious, of course, but I had to say it anyway.

      almost 2 years ago
    • meyati's Avatar
      meyati

      The staff probably does what the clinic director and doctor wants. It's sad, because other oncologists wanted to see me just for curiousity's sake. The oncologist that I now have was assigned to me, because he requested me so many times. He was surprised to see that I was nice. He's not scared of being downgraded by NIH if I die on him. Anyway, I've lived long enough for Dr. Garg and him to be successes with this type of cancer.

      almost 2 years ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      Good for him - and good for you!

      almost 2 years ago
    • Jesse0218's Avatar
      Jesse0218

      I got my news by the surgeon in his office with a friend sitting with me. I'd had a ton of tests. He's about the most personable person in the world too.
      Then when they wanted to do more tests, we found out that my former employer terminated my insurance retroactively because they didn't want to pay the bills. Leaving me with over $30,000 worth of medical bills I couldn't pay. I'd told every doctor and hospitals up front before anybody ever did anything that I wasn't sure if I still had insurance. They all called and so did I call for the 2nd time. We were all told I had active insurance. Nothing like adding more stress to wondering if you have cancer at that point or not. Everything came to a screeching halt until my own insurance kicked in with Obama care. Then we started the rest of the tests again and went from there. I have the highest praise for my own experience with Obama care. It took care of everything. Medicare has been a bigger hassle to me at times than what I had before I turned 65 last year.
      But, when he came in and said 'you have cancer', it still slammed into me. He sent me to the oncologist. Surgery was scheduled, etc, etc, etc. Everybody knows the rest of the story.
      I was fortunate to be able to say no to chemo because my risk that it would come back is low. But I had to do radiation. That was the lesser of the 2 evils to me though.

      almost 2 years ago
    • still_fighting's Avatar
      still_fighting

      I had several major issues that required surgery and so I had them all done at the same time...hysterectomy, gall bladder removal, etc. about 4 in all. When I went into the surgeons office for my follow-up visit about 6 weeks after my surgeries. He that my uterus was sent to MD Anderson for biopsy and that they found leukemia. He explained a little bit of what kind I had and told me that I needed to get an oncologist. I remember sitting in the exam room with my then husband joking about having to shave and having a deeper voice before the surgeon came in...I remember being shocked to my very core and crying my head off on the way out, I was only 43 and scared to death. I just kept saying "it has to be wrong, no one in my family has ever had leukemia". The very next day I contacted my oncologist and it was a whirlwind of tests, tests and more tests/scans/bone marrow, etc...everything happened within a 3 month period and I've been fighting ever since! It's terrible to get that news anywhere at any time but if you see who is calling even if you don't answer it pull over where it's safe before answering or returning a call. Hearing about cancer is like hearing that a close loved one just passed...every emotional.

      almost 2 years 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 invasive, squamous cell carcinoma questions.  Also, don't forget to check out our Invasive, Squamous Cell Carcinoma page.