I do not go out on Halloween. My kids are too old to Trick-or-Treat, candy hurts my teeth and my wife does not let me knock on stranger’s doors. However, if I did go out into that ghoulish night, I have the idea for the perfect costume. It is a scary outfit, and just thinking of it gives me the willies. I would dress up as…. dare I say it? An Oncologist.
An Oncology costume is a disturbing idea. It is not the White Coat, stethoscope and worn shoes that make that outfit more frightening than zombies, mummies and vampires. It is the possibility of what an Oncologist might say. It is the connection to that dread disease and perhaps a grim prognosis. This is the ultimate White Coat Syndrome.
White Coats are not meant to be frightening. Physicians first wore them over 100 years ago in order to emphasize medical training and research. The idea was to reassure patients that as medical education improved doctors were giving scientific based care, as apposed to the quackery of the 19th Century. Recently, White Coat Ceremonies have become popular at the start of Medical School. The White Coat cloaking ritual welcomes students and emphasizes the ethics of their profession.
Now the truth be told, Oncologist’s are not very scary guys (and gals). We actually give more good news than bad. We cure most of our patients. We are generally pretty good listeners and go to great lengths not to needlessly upset or frighten. Most Oncologists see their patients as friends and neighbors. Moreover, while few of us are fashion plates, as a whole we are not too horrible to look upon.
Still, an Oncologist uniform is a creepy. It would certainly out spook your average Pediatrician, Dermatologist or Obstetrician guise. Even Pathologists do not quite stir up anxiety like a cancer doc.
Personally speaking, I would really like the day to come when a visit to the cancer doc causes as little fear as a visit to the dentist.
“Honey, I have to go the dentist, I think I have a cavity. See you at dinner.”
“Ok, dear. I have to go to the Oncologist; I think I have a cancer. I will pick up some dessert.”
That would be great! The White Coat of the Oncologist always meaning cure. Not a scary idea at all. However, for now, Oncology garb on Hallows Eve sounds like eerie stuff.
Oops…It is getting late and I have to run. Just time enough to put on my costume for the Medical Society Halloween Ball. I will probably be home early. I do not think they will let me stay. I am going dressed as a Malpractice Attorney.