Cultural Assimilation – Chapter 1

healthquest medical centre

The Diagnosis

Doctor Williams peered through his scope, stood up, adjusted the angle and peered again for a long time.

Cecil sat alert in the chair as the doctor turned with a professional flourish and sat in front of his computer typing in the latest notes on Cecil’s open patient record. The printer by his side sprang into action and began to discharge the results of the doctor’s typing.

Then Doctor Williams turned to face Cecil after retrieving paperwork from the printer.

“Well Cecil, I’m referring you to a Doctor Smith. He’s a specialist in an area I’m not sufficiently qualified to handle beyond what we’ve done so far and that’s advanced skin cancer treatment.” He handed the referral to Cecil.

Cecil sat bolt upright in his chair and a cold wave of fear coursed through his body. Cancer? Well the doctor hadn’t really said cancer, he’d only said skin cancer. But the fact remained he had a referral in hand and referral usually meant the next stage upward in the referral process to an uncertain end.

Now Cecil was one of those intense types who like to have everything bundled up in neat little parcels. Work has to be done to perfection in its own space. Recreation has to be done to perfection whether an enjoyable process or not. So trips to the doctor had their space and he’d been very diligent in having regular check-ups. As a matter of fact, he did the sunscreen protection thing and inspected his skin for those rough spots indicating something to be checked out by a doctor. These had been faithfully reported and burned off.

Cecil was nonplussed. His health had been cared for in its space so why was this referral now in his hand?

“But you’ve always handled these spots and the treatment has been successful. Why can’t you burn this off?”

Dr Williams stood to indicate the end of the interview. “Cecil you know we’ve hit this one twice now at your insistence and it’s not going. We don’t want this to move from a basil cell carcinoma into something more complicated and Dr Smith is just the man to see that doesn’t happen or tell us how to proceed in the event it needs further assessment. He will keep me informed as your GP.”

So Cecil left the Medical Centre in a state of agitation. He knew his present dilemma had its origin in all that sun tanning on beaches while he was growing up. He couldn’t count the times he’d come away from a day on the beach with a bad case of sunburn. Those were his teen years when one feels they’re bullet proof.  If there was any consciousness of skin cancer in those days, it would have been in the hallowed halls of medical academia and certainly not a topic of public conversation or fear.

But this was today and Cecil was fearful as he walked to his car. To him it had been a simple treatment. Find the offending spot, burn it off, end of story. Now he was walking away untreated but with a referral in his hand. He glanced at the form to find the contact details of Dr Smith.

It was only a twenty-minute trip to his office. Pressing a button on the sunshade a steel door ground upward permitting entry into the underground car park. A short walk took him to the elevator and he pressed number 9.


Greeting staff with a false bravado as he usually did he took his seat at the desk and spun the chair around to view the city. It was all part of his ritual, something he had to do in order to make the entry exercise complete. Then with a sigh he turned and pressed the do not disturb button on the desk knowing the red light showing up outside his door gave him temporary privacy as he wrestled with clients problems. Today it was more personal.

Keying in the name Dr Smith on this computer he scanned dozens of Dr Smiths listed and sought out the speciality he was interested in. He rechecked the referral form and entered the web page studying academic achievements and experience of this Dr Smith. He nodded his head in acknowledgement, Dr Williams had recommended well. Then with a sigh he punched in the telephone number and made an appointment. The receptionist was businesslike. There’d likely be two appointments, one to assess and the other to deal with damage as explained on the referral form. The fee for service quoted had Cecil’s eyebrows suddenly jerk upward. He was well off financially but the quote surprised him.

Then he mechanically turned his mind back to work. He’d entered the work space again. The red light outside his office was turned off. He was ready for client interviews.

On the appointed first visit Cecil found himself seated in Dr Smith’s waiting room. The receptionist handed him forms to fill in and asked for credit card details which she checked minutely before processing a receipt and motioning him to sit.

Cecil glanced around the crowded waiting room. Most of those presenting was approximately his age, though there were a couple of young adults. The mood was sombre so he reached for a Readers Digest with frayed edges of longevity and tried to read, but the what if’s of this appointment could not be dispelled from his mind and he put the magazine down and waited in silence.

After some time, a nurse called his name and he followed her down the corridor. She motioned him to enter. He glanced at the name plate on the door. It said Dr Haq.

“But I have an appointment with Dr Smith! Cecil glanced at the nurse and frowned.

The nurse smiled pleasantly. “Dr Smith will see you after the preliminary assessment.

Dr Haq was a pleasant woman in her early-thirties. She’d had to fight against conservative relatives in order to enter into medical studies and this had caused a rift in the family. She was good at her profession and exuded confidence. She motioned him to sit and went through the check list of preliminaries, then motioned him to sit and began her examination.

Dr Smith entered from an adjoining room and both conducted the examination with rapid fire technical language flowing between the two doctors. Then as suddenly as he’d appeared Dr Smith was gone.

Dr Haq made some notes then turned to face Cecil. “Dr Williams was correct, it is basil cell but we need to find out how far this has penetrated and do lab tests as we go. Check with reception to find an appropriate date suitable for the surgical procedure and we’ll see you then. Dr Smith will be operating and I will assist him.

To be continued.

“© Copyright Ian Grice 2016 All rights reserved

The above image courtesy of

8 thoughts on “Cultural Assimilation – Chapter 1

    1. Doctors have a hard time dealing with the loss of a patient, so do nurses unless they’ve managed to harden themselves against that reality. They’re trained to save lives and feel frustrated when their patients are not able to be fixed


  1. My sister and brother-in-law are just recovering from Cancer treatment, her second time. There have been lots of family members and some friends and neighbors pass from Cancer. I so wish they could find a cure for all kinds and we would never have to see anyone suffer from it ever again. Going to read the next chapter now. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I decided to examine two issues in this fictional story. Obviously the first is our willingness to take risks with our health only to find out that sometimes we can’t undo the consequence. In this case it was fixable. The second issue in the rest of the story will be the issue of culture clash and human reaction to that.


  2. Well, one never knows when something like this springs up. Though this is fiction, I suppose – it retraces quite a familiar route for many people.
    My only older sister passed away from cancer 10 years ago. She was an amazingly brave woman – my hero.
    Until the time came for her to check into the hospital for the last time, her only concern was her husband. Their children were all married and he will soon be alone.
    I recall on one visit, about a week before she died, she was busy teaching her hubby how to cook for himself. The couple were old world. I never saw them quarrel or exchange a harsh word. He laboured long hours to provide for the family. Gave his pay check to my sister and she managed as best she could.
    Both were very selfless —
    Next to my grandpa, I learned most from my sister.
    P.s. Sorry if I got carried away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No you didn’t get carried away at all. These are very real experiences and I’ve drawn this chapter from a composite of people I’ve known who had to deal with the issue. The next chapter is based on real life experience and then it gets into a cultural issue from there.

      Liked by 1 person

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