07 January 2011

The Cavalcade of Cancer Continues

I was lucky to be able to take some time off around the time of my wife's cancer diagnosis. But I had signed up for a couple of shifts: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the day after. I figured it was only fair to work those to give my partners some family time at the holiday.

So, Christmas Day I got the guy with Renal Cell Carcinoma, and the day after I diagnosed a 93-year-old lady with colon cancer.

I remember when I first got engaged, there was a sudden phenomenon that no matter what TV show or internet site or magazine I read there were dozens of wedding dresses everywhere, and when we had our first kid suddenly everything I saw was all about babies. When I was thinking about buying a BMW, I saw beemers on the street everywhere I looked. There is that selection bias that our subconscious does, where you notice the things that you are drawn to. 

But this is just ridiculous. 

I seriously can go five years without seeing a new cancer diagnosis in the ER. And in the last year I've had a dozen or more. Of course I remember them more, having noted the pattern and having been personally touched by the disease. But geez.

If you come to the ER and you see me, you might just want to ask for a different ER doc. I think I'm cursed.


  1. I'm glad for their sakes that they were drawn to you, because they probably got treated more compassionately than a lot of harried doctors would do. If my life was about to be divided into Before and After, I'd want to be handled by someone who is so caring about what is said at an indelible moment like that.

  2. you're not cursed. just selection bias.

    try it with your car. i bet you notice other people who drive the same car as you. drive someone elses car for a bit. you'll be suprised at how many of that other persons car you see on the road.

    selection bias filters out stuff that isn't immideatly revelant to you.

    since cancer is on the fore front of your mind right now it stands out clearly in your patients.

    you could make the same comparisons with your patients jewelry or hairstyle. it would come up at about the same frequency as cancer.

    lastly, thank you for sharing your experiences.


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