Cancer Patients Benefit From Talking With Other Patients


Evangelos S. GragoudasDuring a routine eye exam, the Opthalmologist found a dark spot in my wife’s right eye and and feared it could be a melanoma. These cancers are very dangerous and are usually found on the skin. But rarely, they can be found in the eye. So for Valentines Day my wife and I went to see Dr. Gragoudas who is a very famous doctor who treats melanoma of the eye.It was a very crowded waiting room and no one was saying a word. The entire room was nervously looking at the floor and squirming their seats.My wife was asked to go with the nurse for a few minutes to have some drops placed in her eyes to dilate them to make it easier for the doctor to see into her eyes, and for that few minutes I waited in the crowded waiting room to save our seats. One of the patients started talking to another and asked if he had a melanoma of his eye. The man responded he had been diagnosed 8 years earlier and was doing well. Another patient volunteered that his diagnosis was 3 years ago. Another called out, “11 years.” And so it went around the room.All the tension was broken. Everyone started talking with each other and the tension that had existed went away. We were there for quite a while, going from one test to another. Every one of the patients continued to smile and make conversation with each other.Finally the day ended and the testing proved that my wife’s dark spot was just a mole on her eye; not cancer. We were lucky. And the experience of going to the doctor showed how important it is for people to share their fears and successes with each other.

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