This is from an Australian TV programme Outliving your cancer prognosis (see: 35:29-35:35). In this discussion programme, some people who were diagnosed with cancer talk about how they lived longer than the time the doctors said remained.

One Australian lady says she was diagnosed in the USA with 3 weeks remaining, and she then returned to Australia, but she lived years.

The moderator of the program asked her:

Moderator: What did your cancer doctor make of your recovery?

The lady: Well, he would not talk to me.

I did not quite understand what she specifically meant by using "would". Amongst many usages of "would", I think I have seen this usage of "would", when something did not happen even if you tried to make it happen many times.

So, I think she meant "However many times I tried to contact him, the doctor did not want to talk to me about it and he avoided me each time I wanted to talk to him"

However, I am not quite sure if I understood it correctly, because it does not quite make sense that the doctor would have avoided his patient without saying anything.

Did I understand her use of "would" correctly?

  • 2
    That's would as the past tense of will in contexts like You will go to the ball - expressing "determination", not just "future". Which strangely enough is often expressed as You shall go to the ball because that "willpower, by force of will" implication has largely vanished from the degenerate auxiliary verb will today. He wouldn't see me = He was unwilling to see me (and he didn't). Jun 19, 2023 at 20:21

1 Answer 1


Your understanding is correct; she is saying the doctor refused to speak with her. We can only guess at the doctor's intentions, however, it is plausible that they are trying to avoid the embarrassment or legal liability that might come from making such a drastic misdiagnosis.

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