The unspoken word

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 24 September 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5761
  1. Rosamunde Codling, retired, Wymondham NR18 0PH, UK
  1. Correspondence to: rjcodling{at}

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”1

But one word—cancer—was rarely used in my local hospital. After being diagnosed with a non-Hodgkin lymphoma, I kept a journal.

An extract reads:

“The word “cancer” was not used until about my third chemo session . . . Until then, all references had been to lymphoma, not even to tumour. My reaction [to a nurse’s comment] was not surprise …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription