Happiness and the art of care and conversation on the cancer ward

Happiness and the art of care and conversation on the cancer ward

Ranjana Srivastava, Oncologist, Author & Guardian Columnist at Monash Health, Australia, writes 'On Happiness' from both doctor and patient perspectives in a place where achieving that can be very challenging:


"Much of the fear of cancer arises from a total lack of control, so I am at my happiest when a patient with a new diagnosis comes in bewildered and shaken and leaves my office feeling a modicum of control."



"I have met some wonderful doctors in my career, loved by patients and their colleagues. They all have something in common – they have honed the art of communication.

These doctors look at their computer screen less and their patients more. They smile, wince, celebrate and commiserate with their patients and they look them in the eye. They show empathy without losing their professionalism. Through their words and their gestures they show that they care.

I asked a very busy GP once how he managed to keep so many patients happy. “I behave as if for those ten minutes the patient before me is my only concern in the world,” he said.

When patients feel listened to they tend to engage in decision-making and the management of their condition. Patients come to doctors for a diagnosis and treatment but also for comfort. A kind gesture, a soothing word can be as therapeutic as a prescription."

How often have we had those words reinforced by reported experiences (unfortunately usually in the opposite sense) on this site?


Photo: Cacti have dangerous spikes, but beautiful flowers...

1 Reply

  • This describes my doctor. Thank you for posting this Neil.


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