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Living on the edge

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 04 August 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:291
  1. Susannah Baron (, specialist registrar in dermatology
  1. Leeds General Infirmary

    It is terrifying to find a lump in your neck. You also feel slightly embarrassed. How long has it been there? Could that be why you have drenching night sweats, a chronic cough, and severe chest pain, and can't walk up the stairs? I was reassured for a while by the diagnosis of tuberculosis, but six weeks later when I had turned into a walking MRCP short case by occluding my left subclavian vein—the first time I have ever felt a properly deviated trachea—I realised that it was something serious. Lying in the casualty department finding out that I had a huge tumour in my chest was strangely calming. I wasn't frightened of dying; I just suddenly realised how much I loved being alive. When I contemplated the enormous CT guided biopsy needle sticking out of my chest, I began to realise the full extent of the terrifying experiences that we doctors inflict on patients every day.

    Why shouldn't alternative therapies that make you feel better boost your …

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