11 Oct


When you’re an oncology patient, your doctors try to present your illness to you as simply and gently as possible.  After all, they need you to understand your condition as completely as possible without losing hope.  You can’t get well if you don’t know how to take care of yourself or give up hope completely.

When doctors talk about you behind your back, though, they get into all the technical, nitty-gritty details and don’t gloss over anything.  They use all kinds of medical jargon that you didn’t even know existed until you read their reports – words like “retrocaval”, “eosinophilic” and “hilum”.  It’s like the difference between looking at the paper kidney you cut out in 1st grade science to help build your skeleton project and looking at a real kidney on TV on “The Doctors”.  The first one is much more palatable.

So when you move from Switzerland to Texas and have to pore through medical dictionaries and all their complicated terminology to translate your own medical records from French into English, you find out things that you didn’t really want to know — like how much hemorrhaging there was on your kidney tumor when it was removed, or what color and texture your brain tumors were, or exactly how badly your liver and remaining kidney failed the previous January due to a reaction to the contrast agent for an MRI study.

My advice – just stick to what the doctors tell you in person.  That way you’ll be less likely to have a total freak-out moment.


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