A Well-Developed Sense of Denial

Mon, 10/11/2010 - 6:37am
Bruce Campbell, MD

Inside every patient, there’s a poet trying to get out. My ideal doctor would ‘read’ my poetry. my literature.
– Anatole Broyard

"When did you first notice the sore?" I ask the newly diagnosed cancer patient. I was taught in medical school that a thorough history includes information on the "duration of symptoms." Over the years, I have been amazed how often the answer is: "Doc, I first noticed something about six weeks ago." Whether the cancer appeared large or small, completely confined or widely metastatic, barely symptomatic or agonizingly painful, the answer was frequently "six weeks."

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