Yippee! Melanie is back as she stands in for Frank’s  Truthful Tuesday.

The question this week:

Is it compassionate for medical professionals to keep people on tenterhooks waiting for results, particularly if the diagnosis in question could be really bad news; but in general too?   

Wouldn’t it be kinder to just shut up and order the tests and whatever to find out a firm answer before stressing out the patient?   In your honest opinion please.

Good one Melanie! My thoughts are thus:
Sept 9th 2016: lump found in right breast, doctor seen the following day. Referred to breast clinic, expected time frame, 2 weeks.
Two weeks later: mammogram, examination, core biopsy. Conversation with McMillan nurse and consultant that it looked like bad news. Surgery likely and consultant surgeon appointment made for two weeks.
Thirteen days later asked to come into my appointment early the following day as further tests needed.
Day after, a deeper core biopsy (that bloody hurt!!) and another wait.
Two weeks later, bad news delivered and lumpectomy scheduled for October 31st.

Humphrey was a grade 3 tumour, but because nothing taken surrounding the mass showed any sign of invasion, he was a ‘good’ stage 3.

We were grateful we had a good team on my case and my cancer was curable as we’d found it early. I was scheduled for annual mammograms for the next five years along with medication and 20 sessions of radiotherapy as chemo would not benefit me.
The clinic I was under the care of was a centre of excellence, they did everything in one place hence so much done on my first visit and they had been able to warn me of the outcome more or less at the beginning.
September 2019
I received a letter saying something had turned up on my annual mammogram that needed further investigation. I lost it. My worst fears were becoming a reality and I phoned the clinic straight away. They could not fit me in for a couple of weeks. I said my nerves wouldn’t stand a couple of weeks and we would drive all night if we had to for an appointment the next day, even if we had to wait all day to see someone.
I was a mess and handed the phone to Hubby as I couldn’t get my act together.
The lady on the other end said she’d make enquiries and come back to us.
She did within the hour and I had an appointment the next morning. We rang our friend and she immediately offered to put us up so we drove down immediately.

The core biopsy this time was more intrusive though I didn’t feel a thing and was laughing and joking with the three girls as they did what was necessary. The head nurse came back after about ten minutes and said she had excellent samples, explaining that this intruder had a tail and she had managed to get some of that too. It would probably mean more surgery, but they’d know more in a fortnight.
Always two weeks, and we used it to think, plan and discuss.
Two weeks later the shit really hit the fan and I was scheduled for a mastectomy on October 28th.

Done, dusted, gone, and although that shadow is forever over me, it won’t beat me.
They changed my meds which I am on until 2029. The five year annual watch clock was reset and last year I had my notes transferred up here because a 200 mile journey for a five minute examination and then 200 miles back in the same day just wasn’t practical.

So coming back to Melanie’s questions

Is it compassionate for medical professionals to keep people on tenterhooks waiting for results, particularly if the diagnosis in question could be really bad news; but in general too?
Wouldn’t it be kinder to just shut up and order the tests and whatever to find out a firm answer before stressing out the patient?

IMO it all depends on what the potential diagnosis is. In my case, everything was two weeks, and in 2016 we went with the flow, not really knowing or expecting anything else as I had never been ill. I am glad we had the chat with the McMillan nurse that first day. Reassurance and confidence in the medical professionals I was under was paramount.
In 2019 it was a different story. I wanted to know IMMEDIATELY, but we still had to wait two weeks for the final results and then another two weeks for my surgery. I had the same surgeon and McMillan nurse assigned to me which was a plus.
We were away from home for two weeks until the drain was removed and I was deemed fit enough to travel. Everything seemed to be in two week intervals, but in some circumstances, 2 days is too long.
Waiting is the hardest thing because time is suddenly so damn precious. You don’t want to waste any of it as you begin to question how much you may have left.

About pensitivity101

I am a retired number cruncher with a vivid imagination and wacky sense of humour which extends to short stories and poetry. I love to cook and am a bit of a dog whisperer as I get on better with them than people sometimes! In November 2020, we lost our beloved Maggie who adopted us as a 7 week old pup in March 2005. We decided to have a photo put on canvas as we had for her predecessor Barney. We now have three pictures of our fur babies on the wall as we found a snapshot of Kizzy, my GSD when Hubby and I first met so had hers done too. On February 24th 2022 we were blessed to find Maya, a 13 week old GSD pup who has made her own place in our hearts. You can follow our training methods, photos and her growth in my blog posts. From 2014 to 2017 'Home' was a 41 foot narrow boat where we made strong friendships both on and off the water. We were close to nature enjoying swan and duck families for neighbours, and it was a fascinating chapter in our lives. We now reside in a small bungalow on the Lincolnshire coast where we have forged new friendships and interests.
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4 Responses to TRUTHFUL TUESDAY 3rd May 2022

  1. Lauren says:

    I have been?with family members as they dealt with breast cancer. All of them wanted to know as much as possible as soon as possible. Only one ended up with just the core biopsy. The rest were mastectomies. The grateful part of each was that the early detection made all the difference.

    • Hope your family members are fully recovered Lauren,
      I was lucky that both Humphrey and Dick were found early. I feel fine now and no different, but it was a shock to hear, and we dealt with it together.

  2. murisopsis says:

    I know that we all want to know instantly but the tests must be done with all due diligence and that takes time. A friend of mine had a lump on her neck and it had been there for 20 years. It got bigger and she had her doctor look at it. They did a biopsy and told her it looked “suspicious” she went into a mental tailspin. Two weeks later it came back benign. I think some doctors’ philosophy is to give patients a worst case scenario and then be able to give them “good news” while others think it best to “not worry” the patient unnecessarily and down play the seriousness.

    • I think it all comes down to the individual and how the consultant sees them. Mine was great and knew we wanted no frills and fancy language, just the bottom line and where we went from there.

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