Custom Search

           

Doctor with terminal illness - When cancer is not a death sentence.

Dr Sampurna Roy MD   

 

 


 

Medicine is a very demanding profession. We are all aware of professional burnout, stress, emotional exhaustion specially among young trainee doctors. 

There are numerous shocking stories of mental distress, loss of empathy and doctors committing suicide at an early stage of their career.

There is another group of doctors which we rarely discuss.

They are happy, successful and well established in  their profession, till they find out that they have a terminal illness.

Senior doctors rarely talk about their own illness.

Those who know about their illness are their family members, oncologist and selective doctors treating  them and a few close friends.

So how do we deal with a friend from the same profession who is a cancer survivor or is undergoing chemotherapy?

Sometimes well-intentioned words can easily backfire. Here are some examples.

1)  "Cheer up, don't forget you are a doctor and have diagnosed and treated many cancer patients".

There is a difference between treating a patient and actually suffering from the disease.

It is worse because the doctor knows all about the pathology and pathogenesis of the disease, side effect of drugs and prognosis.

It is best to treat a sick doctor like any other patient.

Family and friends should be very supportive and careful while dealing with someone who knows all about the illness but is depending on others for the treatment and care.

2)"You look gorgeous and radiant and it is difficult to say you actually had such a serious disease. You have lost some weight but that is really good for you". 

It is insensitive to make any comment on the appearance. There is a difference between losing weight from a terminal illness and that from going to the gym or regular exercise. It is better to invite the sick friend for a morning walk or just pay a visit with some fruits or flowers and not comment on the appearance. 

It is better to invite the sick friend for a morning walk or just pay a visit with some fruits or flowers and not comment on the appearance. 

It is better to invite the sick friend for a morning walk or just pay a visit with some fruits or flowers and not comment on the appearance. 

3) "Your mood swings and behaviour is like one of those cranky patients and not like a doctor. You are being too sensitive or judgemental about every remark." 

The doctor is a cancer survivor and mood swings are very normal after major illness.It is for the family and  friends not to be judgemental about the change in behaviour.

The doctor is a cancer survivor and mood swings are very normal after major illness.

It is for the family and friends not to be judgemental about the change in behaviour.

4) "Even if chemotherapy is over you should not go back to work and start seeing patients. You need complete rest."

Wrong, the doctor should definitely go back to work and lead a normal professional life. Interacting with peers and other staff members will have a positive psychological effect. 

It is entirely upto the doctor to decide how much clinical responsibility she/he is ready to take.

If the doctor is the owner of a private nursing home or a clinical laboratory there is ample scope for administrative work before starting clinical work immediately after chemotherapy.

5) "Let us have a party. You are completely cured and we should celebrate". 

No, the doctor like any other patient has gone through a traumatic experience.

The fear of relapse is always at the back of the mind. It is more fulfilling to meditate, read books or just sit quietly for sometime without thinking of anything.

6) "Keep away from all forms of electronic media and smartphone". 

It is not possible to switch off the cell phone for the whole day. You have to constantly keep in touch with your family and reassure them that you are fine and just doing your job.

Internet is part of our everyday life and spending few hours doing something you really enjoy is normal and a healthy sign.

Finally, you should keep in mind cancer is not a death sentence if detected at an early stage.

Main goal should be to lead a meaningful, happy, stress - free life with loving and caring people.

Cultivate new hobbies make new friends and enjoy every spare minute of the rest of your life on your own terms. 

 Good luck!

 

 

Dr  Sampurna Roy  MD

Consultant Histopathologist (Kolkata - India)

 

 


 

 

Histopathology-India.net

 

Pathopedia-India.com

 

Surgical Pathology.com

 

Pathology-India.com

 

Dermpath-India

 

Infectious Disease Online

 

Pathology Quiz Online 

 

Paediatric Pathology Online

 

Pancreatic Pathology Online

 

Paraganglioma-Online

 

Endocrine Pathology Online

 

Eye Pathology Online

 

Ear Pathology Online

 

Cardiac Path Online

 

Pulmonary Pathology Online

 

Lung Tumour Online

 

Mesothelioma-Online

 

Nutritional Pathology Online

 

Environmental Pathology Online

 

Soft Tissue Tumour Online

 

GI Path Online-India

 

Gallbladder Pathology Online

 

E-book - History of Medicine  

 

Microscope - Seeing the Unseen

 

 

 

Disclaimer

Privacy Policy  

Advertising Policy

Copyright 2017  pathopedia-india.com