Her voice, her face, the nervous continual tapping on her clipboard is embedded in my mind, in my heartbreak. She was the “cold, disconnected doctor” who gave us the bad news. There was little compassion, kindness, or awareness of who was sitting before her. Strictly business, only giving medical information that our shock could not let in at that time. We only heard, “incurable cancer, radiation, chemo, probably many years, die of infection.”
“Isn’t this an oncology office? Where is the Kleenex?” I barked through my tears looking around for something, anything, that would acknowledge the moment like only Kleenex can.
Several years after receiving the catastrophic news, the image of her has softened some in my mind. Unexpectedly my heart breaks for her and what she must have to find within herself to be the messenger of life-changing news every week, maybe even every day. I see her pregnant belly. I see a nursing mother. I think about her baby. I dream, “It must be hard to open your heart to the sweetness of your baby and then give bad news to people every day.”
I wonder, “When you look into the eyes of your baby, do you ever see a scared person faced with a terminal illness? What do you feel?” I just don’t know. I can’t imagine it.
She didn’t share a touch, smile, or caring presence for me to be able to even guess.
Julie Nesnansky says
Wow, thank you Chaya. Is there any way that this can be shared with that doctor? Your pain and also you compassion are so powerful. XXX
There is nothing acceptable about the behavior of the oncologist at that visit, what a horrible memory for you to have. Fourteen years ago I received a breast cancer diagnosis from a breast surgeon/specialist and he spoke of his agony that it was not visible on any mammogram, that visit ended with a big hug from this sweet man. Every visit ended with a hug. It was an aggressive type, surgery, chemo, radiation and I opted for a clinical trial…my oncologist was the sweetest doctor and I brought the hug idea to his office, I imagined he needed it at the end of our visits as much as I did.