When doctors scare you with the “cancer” possibility

I mentioned in my post on Monday that I had a doctor’s appointment last week and that I would write about it later. Well, this is later.

(This was supposed to have published this morning. I’m looking right at my screen where it says “Publish on: Jul 15, 2016 @11:00. So I have no clue what happened except my computer was down last night and maybe it didn’t save after I entered the date and time. But here it is.)

I’ve liked my doctor in the past very much. But as I write that, I realize I haven’t had a lot of visits with him. In fact, I really don’t have any serious health issues but from what I recall, I’ve always liked him.

doctor's bedside manner

I have had doctor’s appointment in the last few years but they have been foot doctors and back doctors. The last couple of years I only saw the Physician’s Assistant. Which was fine.

I have been particularly tired which is unusual for me and seeing as I’ve had no blood work done in years, maybe I should make an appointment.

  • My blood pressure was 120/80. (I’m so proud.)
  • I had lost twelve pounds. (Even prouder.)
  • My pulse was 56. (Has always been good.)

(You should know I’ve worked really, really hard to get those results, walking or working out six out of seven days. Eating extremely healthy.)

When my doctor came in, I told him that I thought my fatigue might be nothing, that we’d been crazy busy for two months but that I thought I should at least check it out.  I told him that no matter how tired I am, I can still push myself to exercise about six days a week.

As we talked I noticed he sighed a lot like he was tired or just preoccupied with something. I also noticed he hadn’t smiled when he came in or said anything about having not seen me for a while. In other words, he seemed a little “cool”. I don’t recall him being like that.

He’s my husband’s doctor as well and he likes him a lot. He’s been really good for my husband, always steering him in the right direction.

Here’s the conversation:

“Have you been sleeping OK?”

Me: “As far as I know”.

“Do you snore”

Me: “My husband and never mentioned I do.”

“How’s your mood?”

“Good”, I respond.

“Well, maybe we should get a chest x-ray.”

Me: “A chest x-ray. For what?”

“Well, fatigue can be a symptom of lung cancer.”

Me, incredulously, and somewhat sarcastically :), “How did you jump from fatigue to lung cancer? That’s quite a leap.”

“Well, fatigue is often the first symptom of cancer somewhere.”

poor bedside manners

(An aside here: I’ve had to have mammograms every six months now for two years because there was a “shadowy” “something” on my mammogram two years ago. So this remark did NOT sit well with me.)

At this point, I’m irritated. Remember, I told him we’d been on-the-go for a couple of months.

Then he asked me if thought some blood work was in order.

Now, he’s asking me what think he should do?

“Yes”, I respond. “It’s been awhile”.

“Well, I’ll order some labs. If anything shows up, we will call you.”

Then I asked him about the weight loss. (I wanted a “kudos”. I mean, after all. Of course, he had never suggested I lose weight anyway.)

“Well, maybe five or ten pounds more, but no more than that.” He didn’t say that because I’m too thin or anything but that he knows that as we age, we should maintain a little more weight. It’s healthier. So those remarks seemed right-on.

He gave me a slip for the lab work. I decided to ask him about his family and he seemed to brighten up a little. I asked him if he had any grandchildren yet, (I mean, he’s probably in his late forties, early fifties so that’s certainly a possibility) and he said, “No, he’d better not be as his daughters weren’t married yet”. He thanked me for asking.

No one has called from the office so I’m assuming all is well. Although you should know I will be calling them anyway for the results. I know how things can get messed up a doctor’s office and a call never made. So I’ll let you know.

Anyway, last week I had every intention of finding another doctor. The more I thought about his bedside manner and his ridiculous leap to cancer with what little information he had, the madder I became.

Since then, I’ve decided that seeing as I have an appointment in two months for a check-up, I’m going to wait and deal with it then. I’m going to ask him if he’d prefer I find another physician. When he acts surprised (I’m assuming that of course. Maybe he’ll be relieved. After all, I not a “money-maker” for him.), I going to tell him I thought he was less than friendly at our last visit. His response will decide my future actions.


When I told my husband what had happened, he pointed out that the doctors and nurses in our area are under a lot of stress now because of a new hospital (our only hospital) being built in our town with lots of resulting changes. I should also tell you he has a stellar reputation, from nurses, hospital staff, etc. I’m often told I’m going to one of the best.

I share this story with you some weeks back I wrote about how we are responsible for our health. I think that means we’re not afraid to speak up. I can’t say what he said scared me but I thought it was certainly jumping to a conclusion with no evidence.  I almost had a sense he was irritated that I was wasting his time with something as minor as fatigue and just wanted to scare me or something. (I’m just grasping here.)

I should’ve asked him right then if something was wrong but I was so blown away by his remarks, I wasn’t thinking. I am looking forward to the next visit to see what he says.

I realize we all have a bad day but a doctor takes an oath to “First, do no harm.” If I’d been a different kind of personality, that would have really scared me.

Anyway, I promised I would tell you the story.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

3 thoughts on “When doctors scare you with the “cancer” possibility”

  1. Whoa. What a scare. I’m so glad they found your polyps when they did. My husband also has to be checked every five years.

    God bless you, Karen.

  2. Back in May, I had done my insurance company’s annual FIT ( checks for blood in intestinal tract). A couple weeks later, I get a note in the mail. The first thing I saw (In red), were the words, “You are at risk!” It may have been all caps but I don’t remember. I called my doctor and she immediately sent a consult to the GI Clinic, for a colonoscopy (I am 56 and she told me I had avoided it for six years!). As I use a wheelchair, they admitted me for a 2-day prep and the colonoscopy. That meant two of those jugs of ‘uck’ to drink. But that “You are at risk!” put the fear of God into me. The doctor called the very next day. Now I’m scared. He said he had removed three polyps, two small ones and a large one. The two smaller ones were of the type that could have become cancerous. BUT THERE WAS NO CANCER! I have to do the test again in five years, as I am now considered an at risk patient. My mother’s sister died of colon cancer in her 60’s, if not earlier. Both my father and my brother had polyps. GET THE TEST DONE AGAIN IN FIVE YEARS! No scare there.

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