Treatment

Closing a Gap in Health Care

June 25, 2012 | Categories: Treatment

We live in an information age.  The lyrics of a long-forgotten song, the email address of a high school sweetheart, the cube root of 97 are all available in microseconds through the power of the internet.  Yet even with so much information at our fingertips, sometimes critical information does not reach people who need it to survive.    

Brian Williams and Hope

March 9, 2012 | Categories: Treatment

 

The online community for melanoma patients has been abuzz today about a report by Brian Williams on a patient who had a remarkable experience with melanoma.

She was being treated with Yervoy, one of the two new drugs approved last year for metastatic disease, but was not responding well.  Her multiple tumors were growing and a particularly large one was pressing against her spine, causing severe pain.

The Question

January 9, 2012 | Categories: Treatment

 

I have been around hospitals, doctors, and life-threatening illnesses for a large portion of my life, so I was recently taken aback to learn that something I had heard said over and over in those settings might actually be insulting.

People respond to serious illness in different ways.  Some people dive deep into the internet or library and read everything they can.  Others turn to family, or to a series of second opinions.  Some simply put their trust in their doctor and say, “You know what is best, just tell me what to do.”

What is Truth?

October 7, 2011 | Categories: Treatment

 

The call came, as they often do, at night.  This time it was a mother who has a teenage daughter battling melanoma.  The family had seen three or four different doctors, each of whom gave different advice on what treatment to pursue.  Now it was decision time, and they had to listen to one person’s advice and ignore that of three other people.  What to do?

The Power of Two

September 30, 2011 | Categories: Treatment

 

When a doctor tells a patient they have cancer, they take great pains to explain the situation.  The better docs will use lay-language and talk about treatment plans and next steps.  More often than not, however, it is a wasted conversation.  A patient hears “you have cancer” then everything else is a blur.  The physician might as well be reciting a Shakespearean sonnet in Swahili for all the good it does.

One More Question

September 2, 2011 | Categories: Treatment

I have written a couple of times about questions patients ask when first diagnosed with cancer:  “Am I going to die?”  “How did this happen?”

Another question I hear emerges later.  It comes after the diagnosis, treatments, surgery and the scans that show no evidence of disease (NED):  “Will the cancer come back?”

Once you are diagnosed with cancer, it becomes part of your permanent landscape and fear of recurrence simply comes with the territory. 

Mother and Child

June 16, 2011 | Categories: Treatment

I just got off the phone with a young woman I met earlier this year who is battling Stage IV melanoma.  During the call she told me, “I have a 2 year old and I worry that I won’t live long enough for my child to remember me.”

Alphabet Soup

May 16, 2011 | Categories: Treatment

I had dinner last night with two melanoma researchers.  One is an M.D.; the other has an M.D and a Ph.D.  The discussion quickly moved to new studies and treatments for melanoma, and the conversation became heavily peppered with acronyms.  BRAF, NRAS, c-KIT, PTEN, AKT, m-TOR. 

Watchwords

May 14, 2011 | Categories: Patient Stories, Treatment

Today’s melanoma symposium in Seattle featured a panel of patients telling their stories.    Some have been fighting melanoma for years.  One was recently diagnosed.  They spoke of their treatments - surgeries, radiation, various drugs – and their side effects.

EPIC FAIL

April 5, 2011 | Categories: Treatment

To say that a patient failed a treatment is to use fairly common jargon in describing a situation in which the patient is no longer benefitting from that treatment.  That doesn’t mean it is the right thing to say, however….

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