The poker face: doctors- why you have a duty of care to put your patients minds at ease.

I’m so fed up of doctors and nurses who lack social skills and and have what I like to call- poker face!

Radiologists: I know you’re not allowed to diagnose breast cancer on the spot, but be mindful what you say. If you are more than likely sure it’s cancer don’t sit on the fence or say “ohh that doesn’t look good” or worse go totally silent!

Nurses: if you’re dealing with someone having scans or tests for cancer or ex cancer patients have some bloody empathy. Why are you in the job if you don’t care about your patients?

Doctors (and surgeons in particular): I know you’re busy. I know you’ve been studying most of your life and I know you’re more intelligent than I could ever dream to be, but I’m a person, not an NHS number. Most of the time you worry me with things you tell me because they are not explained properly, or you talk to me in a cold and even condescending manner. Why?

You may only operate on women with cancer, so you may think that excludes you from having a “bedside manner” but it doesn’t! The person you are operating on has had cancer and been through the worst emotional upheaval you could imagine. Be kind. It’s not hard. (I would like to exclude 2 of my female surgeons in this who both operated on me in 2013 and this year who were just unbelievably amazing and so lovely) if you ever read this, you know who you are). 

Oncologists: oncologists are generally more empathetic and kind- at least all the ones I have met are, and so they should be. Yes I know they are cancer specific doctors but that doesn’t mean anybody in the medical profession has an excuse just because that’s not their specialty.

The poker face needs to go. Medics must stop worrying their patients. I don’t care what you do. Go on an empathy course, learn how to put patients worries at ease.

I’m sick of feeling like a 6 digit number. I’m not in the army. I’m Caroline.  A girl who’s had cancer, a girl who is trying to rebuild her life who worries every day that cancer has come back. I’m a mother to young children. I’m a patient yes,  but I’m also a person- a sensitive one.. 


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