“I spent that whole year…preparing to die,” said the guy on NBC news describing the wait between his first and second biopsies. “I wasn’t enjoying living. I was scared of the possibility that I might have cancer and that I would die.” The folks from the National Cancer Institute suggest that the solution is not to call things cancer. People equate cancer with a death sentence, so it’s better to call it something else.

My daughter and I suggest that, when it comes to doctor-patient communication, we drop the names of diseases and just use the same sort of scale the healthcare system uses for pain.

The faces pain scale graphic below

Wong-Baker faces pain scale graphic

can be adjusted thusly:

Wolfe-Jenson faces disease scale graphic Rather than telling you to come in for a biopsy and bandying about words that end with “oma,” doctors can point at face number 2 and ask you to come in for a test.

When I was first diagnosed with MS, the neurologist would’ve pointed to face 2. Using a cane would’ve brought us to face 4, the baclofen pump landed us solidly into face 6 territory and, at my latest visit, after checking for reflexes that aren’t there and frowning at my inability to raise both arms and squeeze his finger, the doctor could have circled face 8, reassured me that we are not at face 10 and sent me on my merry, oblivious way.

I bet healthcare costs would go way down.

Related: Hot to choose the best evolution walker?