Dealing in half-truths

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In the outpatient oncology clinic, we just admitted a 15-year-old patient I'll call Jean, who needs both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Her mother explained that Jean also has bipolar disorder that's well controlled with medication. She asked us to tell her daughter only that chemotherapy is “medicine that will help you get better” and radiation treatments “will help strengthen your spine.” All of us who care for Jean are uncomfortable with the situation. Any advice?—P.G., ONTARIO

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