The Doctor Lied To Us

Feb 01, 2024

When Brian was diagnosed with stage four cancer, the oncologist told us that he was an excellent candidate for a treatment that had a good chance of saving his life.

“Even someone like Brian, whose cancer has spread this much?” I asked.

That doctor looked me in the eyes and answered, “Yes”.

Seven weeks later, when my love was on hospice, just days from his last breath, I came across a form that this same doctor had filled out during that very first visit. The form asked for the life expectancy of the patient. The doctor had checked off, “One year or less,” the lowest option possible.

Next week, it will be exactly five years from the day I looked across that little office in the oncology wing and asked my husband’s doctor this question.

His answer, the next seven weeks, and that other moment - where my eyes read the words on that form, just days before he died - have haunted me ever since.

There was so much else to move through, before I could really face this.

Becoming a young widow. Losing the love of my life. Figuring out how to raise a child on my own. Collapsing and getting up and collapsing again. Moving to a new town and starting over. Other relationships in my life falling apart and breaking me over + over again. Writing my heart out, starting a business, and figuring out how to support a family on my own.

It’s exhausting to write, let alone live.

But five years later and my mind is brought back to that moment, those words, the feeling of being deceived, and the way that Brian's last seven weeks were stolen from us.

The anger I feel boiling up inside of me, is something I can no longer avoid.


Because of the pain my husband went through unnecessarily, trying to “fight for his life”, all because of a doctor’s inability to admit that he was dying.

It sounds easy, “We’ll do treatment”.

But what this actually looked like was me almost carrying all 6 foot 4 of him into our car and driving across the city while he yelled out in pain with each bump and stop - day after day after day.

It meant him throwing up in garbage cans in the hallways as we waited for more and more unnecessary bloodwork.

It meant precious time wasted that we could have been processing together.

Time stolen from him to say the things he wanted to say.

Time stolen from me, to work through this experience at least in part, with my person.

And time stolen from our daughter, who barely saw her dad those last few weeks.

It meant that he ended up dying in the hospital, instead of at home - because of a number of specific circumstances that I won’t get into here - but that all lead back to this same moment in that oncology room.

I’ve spend hours trying to understand why the doctor said what he said. Why he chose to give us false hope.

And while I don’t think I’ll ever fully know what his reasoning was, I do know that my experience is not uncommon. And is rooted in a deep fear of death that exists within our society and the medical system as a whole.

Did he truly believe that Brian might defy the odds?

Did he know Brian would die, but willfully chose to use him as a guinea pig anyways?

Was he just so hopeful that his treatments were changing the world?

Was he scared of death, like so many of us?

Was he blinded by his training and the deep desire to heal, so much so that he couldn’t even look us in the eye and tell us the truth?

I don’t have any of these answers, but what I do have, is the ability to move through this in the way that serves me.

So this year, as I enter the whirlwind of February + March once again, I’m devoted to sitting with this particular chapter of our journey, this complete tragedy.

The unfairness of it. The extra loss. And the anger that is boiling up.

I’m allowing the emotions that are coming up to flow, without questioning or trying to understand them. I am allowing my body, my nervous system, and my heart - to complete the cycle that they couldn’t back then.

If you too have an experience like this one, my heart feels your heart. It's so unfair. ♥︎

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