The diagnosis: When the doctor delivers tough news

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A new study says cancer patients nearing the end of life want the truth. But it's not all that simple. Everyday, and with every patient, Dr. John Marshall has to reexamine what it means to tell this truth.
Guest: Dr. John Marshall, Georgetown University Hospital


Chelsea Merz

Comments [2]


My mother died of cancer in 1971. It would not have been an easy death under any circumstances but her sisters made it worse. They
persuaded us, the immediate family, not to tell her the truth. Their advice was selfish, they were thinking of sparing themselves.
I was in my twenties and even though what they said didn't make sense to me, I thought their long life experience (one was in her
sixties, the other in her seventies) had given them greater knowledge than I possessed. Eventually my father did speak truthfully to his wife.

My mother had early learned that putting on a happy face gained her social approval. She was the master of denial. I now know that you must
speak candidly about dying, not hope that gentle hints will do.

Jun. 20 2008 03:26 PM

Was the pencil scribbling and other background noise an ironic commentary on the clinician's detachment in end-of-life situations? Jeez, guys, have some class.

Jun. 19 2008 02:57 PM

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