'How long have I got, doc?' Why many cancer patients don't have answers
In the past four years, Bruce Mead-e has undergone two major surgeries,
multiple rounds of radiation and chemotherapy to treat his lung cancer.
Yet in all that time, doctors never told him or his husband whether the
cancer was curable — or likely to take Mead-e’s life.
“We haven’t asked about cure or how much time I have,”
said Mead-e, 63, of Georgetown, Del., in a May interview. “We haven’t
asked, and he hasn’t offered. I guess we have our heads in the sand.”
At a time when expensive new cancer
treatments are proliferating rapidly, patients such as Mead-e have more therapy choices than ever before. Yet
patients like him are largely kept in the dark because their doctors either
can’t or won’t communicate clearly. Many patients compound
the problem by avoiding news they don’t want to hear.