Raafia Siddiqui is second year medical student at McMaster University.
The surgeon asked me for the second time, “So are you here alone?” “Yes”, I answered, this time a bit impatiently. I was a 20-year-old with other things than this appointment but my family doctor had noticed a lump on my throat and insisted I see a specialist. We were supposed to discuss the results of the biopsy today.
After my response, the surgeon placed his hand on my shoulder and let out a long sigh. I asked him, “What is it?” His reply was very short and urgent, “There’s a lump - and we have to take it out”.
Immediately, I understood what he meant and began pressing him with questions, “Is it malignant? Has it metastasized? What type of cancer is it?” Although I felt I had to pry answers out of him, the specialist finally told me I had a thyroid tumour, which he believed had begun to spread.
Dr. Joshua Tepper is a family physician and the President and Chief Executive Officer of Health Quality Ontario, the provincial adviser on health care quality
Written with Alanna Glassman, writer and editor at Health Quality Ontario
Recently, members of the health care community and the public at large mourned the loss of neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks. My grandfather, also a neurologist, sent me one of Dr. Sacks’s books when I first expressed an interest in applying to medical school. I have since enjoyed many of his other written works.
Earlier this summer, the health care community also lost another tremendous leader, Dr. David Sackett, the father of evidence-based medicine. On my first day of medical school, I remember receiving one of his books too, and to this day it remains a fixture on my bookshelf as a resource.
It may seem odd to bring these two doctors together, because they held such divergent views of the clinical world. ...continue reading