In October in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness I will post a daily blog with a reflection about breast cancer. The reflections will stem from something in the play. (All quoted lines are text from the play.)
Day 4: Awareness also means not jumping to conclusions. It is important for both patient and doctor not to assume a diagnosis based on incomplete information. The most common source of misdiagnosis. The Actual Dance is indeed about a lot of things. One of which is the emotional roller coaster of the premature joy of seeming good news followed by the depth of grimness of later confirmed bad news. Susan’s biopsy in 2000 was done as an “out-patient procedure in one of these modern surgical centers found in shopping malls everywhere.” No frozen section this time. Just the chirp of a surgeon who I “nickname Dr. Happy because he is always so frigging optimistic. . . . Good news! Dr. Happy chirps as he strides into the recovery room.” What was at first thought to be “just scar tissue from the hold biopsy site” turned out, based on chemical analysis of the tissue removed to be stage 3 breast cancer. That news comes “three days later when the phones rings. ‘Susan this is Dr. Morgan’s office (fictionalized name). Can you come in tomorrow we have the lab report back. Sam should come with you.”
Stat of the Day: As of 2008, about 2.6 million women are alive who have been diagnosed with breast cancer at some time in their life.
Task of the Day: Learn how to talk to your doctor. Question assumptions. Practice because it can be hard, especially because doctors can be intimidating just by their presence. Simple questions. “What if it is something else?” “Are there any other test results that could change the diagnosis?” “I would like a second opinion, just too be sure.”
Resource of the Day: I loved this book by a doctor on how to deal with a doctor as a patient. How Doctors Think by Dr. Jerome Goopman.