Fog of Denial

Fog of Denial

Perspectives of a doctor becoming a patient – Part 1

One day, when I was 27 years old, suddenly, out of the blue, I noticed a breast lump. Since I am a doctor, my initial reaction was to wait a few weeks to see if it changed with my menstrual cycle. It was pretty easy for me to ignore the problem once I chalked it up to fibrocystic change (changes the breast undergoes during the menstrual cycle). This is probably rationalization, a defense mechanism. Unfortunately, the lump did not change at all, and suddenly I felt something I wouldn’t have felt if it was my young patient who told me about a breast lump—fear.

Now, if my 27 year old patient told me about a breast lump, I would tell her that the most common solid tumor of the breast in women under 35 is a fibroadenoma. These tumors are simply removed surgically and then forgotten. They are not cancer. But honestly, I remember being very afraid of what the lump contained. And do you know what my reaction was? To ignore it. I just simply did nothing. I didn’t tell anyone and I didn’t think about.

Now this is not the advice I would give to my patients; if you have a breast lump, you don’t panic but you don’t ignore it. You simply make an appointment with a doctor in a reasonable amount of time to address it. But you have to understand that I was scared, and being scared meant I needed to address the issue when I was ready. Luckily it didn’t take me too long to get out of the fog of denial and realize I needed to do something.

The next thing I did was look up breast lumps in my medical texts, because I wanted to find out what was wrong—worst case scenario first. Yes, rationalization helps me. The medical texts confirmed what I knew and I felt relief….

More to come with tomorrow’s blog post!

Dr. Lois

Veronica Lois is a second year pediatric resident at Stanford University who enjoys writing and now wants to share her medical knowledge with the general public.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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