The Guardian

Five things to remember after getting the dreaded cancer diagnosis | Ranjana Srivastava

As if cancer treatment wasn’t trying enough, a common stress will be unwanted advice. But you can benefit from the wisdom of others
‘Once a cancer patient, always a cancer patient. Descriptors like cure, partial remission, complete response, and wait and see will cross your path’ Photograph: Dimitris Legakis/Athena Pictures

Amid the greetings of the new year arrives a simple text message, “What do you think?” The story is familiar enough but this time, the cast is different. The patient is related to my childhood friend and across continents and time zone, I feel it all. The desperate bid to find an oncologist, the labyrinth of investigations, the profusion of advice, and above all, the acrid taste of fear arising unbidden.

Every day brings a new test. My friend and I talk when we are both awake and free. I text the patient who responds gracefully but doesn’t call. Caught up with my own patients, it’s not until days later that the act strikes me as deliberate,

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