Recently a patient named Paul commented that he was grateful his disease was not as bad as someone he’d met while waiting to see his oncologist. I used my observation about the weather to make a point.

“I heard it’s really hot in Palm Springs today,” I said.

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“Yes, well over 100, maybe 110,” Paul said.

“110. Wow, that’s hot.” Then I added, “You know, when it’s hot there, it’s still hot here. It may not be as hot, but hot is hot.”

I decided to do more than use an analogy. I wanted to make my point very clear. I told him I didn’t want him to minimize his experience. Acknowledging that what he was going through was not easy is not whining or complaining. It doesn’t have to be the hottest place to be plenty hot. Paul agreed that that made sense, and he would take it under advisement.

Now when I see Paul, I have a short-handed way of asking how he is doing.  He always laughs when I ask, “How is the weather today?”

Ann Brady is the symptom management care coordinator at the Cancer Center, Huntington Hospital, Pasadena, California.