posted by Arkham on January 24th, 2009


Whenever he met with patients who were in the advanced stage of cancer, he thought of Dr. Liu, an oncologist at the hospital who was known for his brutal honesty. Liu was Chinese, real Chinese, and although he spoke English well, he spoke with a harsh Chinese accent, which only seemed to add the brutality of his medical analysis.

For instance, a patient who had lung cancer that had reappeared after a brief remission would ask with trepidation how things looked, and Liu, ever so bluntly, would respond: “You have lung cancer. You are going to die.” Just like that. No sugar coating. No posturing.

Many left his office in tears, wondering how their doctors could have sent them to Dr. Liu. But remarkably, a few weren’t angry. A few said thank you. They liked him because he was very up-front and knowledgeable about his field. He knew the literature. He knew his patients. He followed them very closely. And they appreciated it.

You have cancer. You are going to die.

Thank you for telling me. Thank you very much.

From “Knife Music” by David Carnoy