Sometimes you need to say the good words too …

When doctors are taught to give bad news, they are told not to skirt around the issue. It is important to come right out and say it. The words matter.

What I don’t think they are told is that the good words matter too. Part of my struggle has been that the doctors don’t seem to come out and say the words – You are cancer free or your are NED (no evidence of disease). They say things like you are doing fine, come back and see me in 3-months or 6-months. But sometimes, we as patients, just need to hear the words. None of this implying them, but not actually saying them. We need our doctors to say the words, cause the words matter.

  • Becky


  • This one can be a little tricky. I think I understand why doctors don’t say the words, because technically we are never done with cancer, whether it’d be physically or mentally, but most importantly, there is no cure. I think doctors don’t want to commit to saying something they are not 100% sure about because there isn’t a test that can gives us 100% evidence that there isn’t any cancer in our bodies. I also think in a way they want to train you to get used to the idea that now you’re a cancer patient. By confirming you’re cancer free, it may bring up some emotional conflicts — It has happened to me. I don’t remember my Onco telling me I was free of cancer but my radiation Onco Dr. did and that confused me and made me feel tricked.

    Every patient is different though. And I would understand why some would want to hear those words. We also need something to hold to in order to proceed with life, something positive. I totally understand that. That’s fine too.

    I agree with you words do matter, I just don’t think they can be easily identified since everyone feels so differently about their cancer (or can react differently). Doctors have it tough too.

  • I just read this blog post that addresses the question from a doctor’s perspective:

    I recall my oncologist’s assistant telling me I was “in remission,” which I thought was interesting given the NED terminology we use these days.

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