Chris Geiger

The Cancer Survivors Club

Web or Waiting Room?

ACCORDING TO A RECENT newspaper article, 85 per cent of us think a family doctor is the most reliable member of society.

Yet only 10 per cent of us believe what we read in newspapers; so that means 90 per cent of you don't believe a word I'm saying. The 10 per cent of you that do trust me might be interested to learn that school teachers were the second most trusted, followed by people who manage charities, police and then judges. After journalists, it's no surprise that politicians, estate agents and car salesmen were ranked as the most untrustworthy.

Personally, I don't trust weather forecasters; take Michael Fish in October 1987, when he said during a forecast: "Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way... well, if you're watching, don't worry, there isn't!.” That evening, we had the worst storm since 1703 – I rest my case!

Strangely, however, we appear to believe everything we read on the internet. So despite the majority of us trust our doctor, self-diagnosis websites have become the most popular types of site to visit; second only to pornographic websites – I've got a theory about that!

I can understand people preferring to Google their symptoms, rather than stripping naked and having a stranger investigate crevices normally only explored by their partner under a duvet. But to rely on information found on the internet is madness. Perhaps it's nothing to do with embarrassment, maybe people are being forced to the web because they can never get a doctor's appointment. Cancer Research has recognised the huge demand for online information, they've been training their 'experts' to create and update web pages on sites like Wikipedia. Despite the significant advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment, the number of people living with cancer in the UK is set to double by 2030. Unfortunately then, the demand for these self-diagnosis websites will inevitably increase.

Yet I'm convinced these sites are turning us into a nation of hypochondriacs.

I confess I'm always looking up my every ache and pain, so does every cancer survivor I've met. So many times I've diagnosed that I'm dying from a rare and yet undiscovered illness, just to find I've simply drunk too much red wine. But what I don't get is why we trust what we read on the net.

Perhaps that explains why online dating sites are popular – people think they've found Mr Perfect!

My theory why self-diagnosis websites are second in popularity to pornographic sites is simple – you still get to see naked flesh, and if someone walks in, you're less likely to look like a pervert!


No part of this article may be reproduced, stored in or introduced to a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without prior written permission of the publisher.


Return to the main columns page.


Bad Cells

Bad Cells by Chris Geiger - Newspaper Columns

Bad Cells is a collection of Chris Geiger’s thought-provoking and witty newspaper columns. His weekly column rapidly grew in popularity, eventually earning him the prestigious Columnist of the Year award.

Bad Cells includes Chris Geiger’s wide-reaching Guinness World Record column, published on World Cancer Day and an excerpt of his top selling book The Cancer Survivors Club. It also includes an exclusive and moving article, titled Bad Cells, describing his thoughts when first diagnosed and receiving treatment for cancer.

Learn more about Bad Cells --->>>