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Barriers

Fri, 08/24/2012 - 8:00am

Bruce Campbell, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin Otolaryngologist

Years ago, I sat in clinic with a new patient, her family, and a Hmong translator. I studied the biopsy report from another doctor’s office. This would be difficult. I asked about her symptoms.

The mass had been there for a while, I learned. She had pain but they were trying some medicines from their traditional healer. She hoped that I could help her. Then I discussed the report.

"She has cancer," I told the daughter. The daughter nodded and turned to tell her mother, speaking at length and re-working my three-word phrase into something much, much longer. The translator helped, as well.

The mother sat quietly, searching her daughter’s face, hearing the words but saying nothing. I tried to learn more about her life. She had been born in Laos. She had never seen a Western physician before developing the mass.
 
"Do your siblings have any health problems?" I asked."We don’t know," her daughter replied. "They were all killed during the war. We haven’t seen most of our relatives since we came to this country."

To read the rest of this blog, click here.

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