Doctor’s Words

Future paths open with doctors’ words

Confident or hedging

Direct or veiled,

Lives are changed with the words they choose.


“I don’t make predictions,” a doctor once said, and

Not knowing is OK if that’s the best one can do.

But an educated guess is not a prediction,

Nor is offering reasons for hope undue.


A best-guess shared with an encouraging tone

May calm a mind untethered, adrift,

Awash in uncertainty about a life with illness,

Feeling afraid and worried — all alone.


A doctor’s words may build or destroy,

Predicting how one goes forth

Into one’s only life.

Until no path opens.


Used by permission of the author.

Allan Hugh Cole

Allan Hugh Cole Jr., Ph.D., serves as Deputy to the President for Societal Challenges and Opportunities at The University of ...more