Monday, June 12, 2006

It's not you, it's me....

NewFNP has had some tough conversations in her day, ranging from "Well, I actually am not a real fan of purple angora mock turtlenecks but thanks for the thought" to "You have chlamydia" to "I really feel like this is not working out with us." Now she has had the "You have cancer" talk.

As with any break-up conversation newFNP has had, the build-up was worse than the event. NewFNP was surprised, quite frankly, at how unaffected the patient was upon hearing the news of her cervical cancer. Perhaps she didn't understand, perhaps she was shocked, perhaps just stoic. Her daughter, on the other hand, appeared to grasp the magnitude of the diagnosis and perhaps her mother's mortality.

In speaking with the woman and her daughter, newFNP asked again when the patient's last pap had been. Her daughter asked, "Two years ago, right?" Her mom replied that she had never had a pap and that the exam two years ago was a mammogram. This is a multiparrous woman - no pap ever. NewFNP is struck by the frequency of that experience in her patient population. She also is reminded of how important it can be to ask the same questions over and again, especially if your communication is compromised by language issues.

As newFNP has had time to reflect upon the initial appointment, she is struck again at how she initially doubted her eyes and her knowledge and how, upon receiving the result, she began to appreciate her abilities. As newFNP reflects upon the care uninsured people receive, she is struck by how flat out fucked they can be. NewFNP has awesome insurance at a very hoity-toity facility. She has a palpably and audibly crunchy knee that needs evaluation. She received her appointment the same day as her primary care physician generated the referral. NewFNP's patient has a big ole tumor in her va-jay-jay and our referral coordinator couldn't secure a colpo/biopsy appointment for her. She had to walk into a specified clinic, lab result in hand, and get medical attention.

Her biopsy was last week, as was her CT scan. NewFNP is awaiting the results, fearful of what they will bring.

Although it didn't feel good to tell this woman that she has cancer, it felt right. It felt respectful to deliver difficult news straightforwardly and compassionately, to answer questions and to be a support.

Now let's get those HPV vaccines rolled out and prevent all these abnormal paps, biopsies, cancers and deaths.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for providing follow-up information. The whole situation is sad.