Monday night’s EastEnders saw the beginnings of Jean Slater’s big storyline which will see her diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
And one viewer felt the scenes were unrealistic, expressing their concerns on Twitter.
Read more: EastEnders Jean to get cancer diagnosis
After feeling unwell for weeks Jean visited the doctors to talk through her symptoms. She was shocked to hear the doctor say there was a possibility she might have cancer.
The doctor examined her and told her she wanted to do some blood tests, refer her for an ultrasound and to see a gynaecologist.
“When I examined your abdomen and had a feel internally there was a mass, a large lump…” the doctor explained.
A stunned looking Jean said: “No one wants to hear a doctor say lump.”
The doctor continued: “It’s nothing definite at this stage, that’s why I want to refer you. It could be nothing.
“Mrs Slater there is a chance given, your symptoms, I worry there could be something seriously wrong with your womb or ovaries.”
“You’re making it sound like cancer,” Jean said, stopped in her tracks when she realised the severity of what the doctor was telling her.
As she went home and tried to hide the truth from her family, fans were devastated at the news she was facing.
But one wasn’t happy with the way the scenes in the doctors were portrayed. They explained on Twitter they’d watched their mum battle cervical cancer and said: “Whoever wrote this episode had clearly never been touched by cervical/ovarian or any other form of female cancer @bbceastenders.
“The diagnosis would never have happened the way it did… you wait for weeks to get anywhere near what was told in the space of five minutes, which would never be by your GP.”
After he was tagged into the tweet, writer Pete Lawson responded: “I’m interested in your comments. I have indeed been touched by people close to me who have had female cancers.
“And this storyline has been closely developed with various charities. I appreciate everyone’s journey is different. And personal, and difficult.
“And that contact with health care professionals varies enormously. Jean is far from having a diagnosis yet.
“I hope you continue watching her journey – we have really wanted to be truthful to Jean and her roller coaster of emotions.”
The viewer responded: “It may vary but it is never pinpointed without any form of MRI, CT scan or swab testing simply because it is not possible to tell if the tissue is actually cancerous without more detailed imaging.”
“With you all the way,” Pete replied. “If you watch those scenes again, Jean gets no confirmation from her GP. Her GP says she’s concerned, she’s found a mass, and needs to refer her for tests etc. It’s Jean who says ‘You’re making it sound like cancer’ and we cut away before the Dr can respond.”
Someone else then added: “This is incredibly true as we are all human beings but also things can be vastly different between different CCGs as well. I got a phone call so missed some of it but from what I heard she did not give a diagnosis either way, just made her aware it was important to follow up.”
Pete then responded: “That’s exactly what it was. We needed a way of getting inside Jean’s head and articulating her new fears whilst being true to a doctor’s sensitive and cautious approach and the need to refer for tests etc before any kind of diagnosis. Jean was the only one to mention ‘cancer’.”
But the original viewer still wasn’t happy, responding: “I raise the point because how many women aged 25 will now not go for a smear because they think you get told within 5 minutes by a misinformed GP? The key here is research if you wish to bring these stories to the public in an informed and real manner.”
Pete added: “If we scare people from seeing GPs etc, we’ve got it wrong. One of our aims is to help people to understand more about cancer, to tell those stories truthfully, and encourage people to go for tests and talk to their families. That’s why we work so closely with charities.”
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