asco-logo Young women get gynecologic cancers, and I have had my share of conversations about ovarian cancers with women in their 20s and 30s. It rarely happens, but when it does, it is devastating. I make it a point to talk with them about their present and their future; although it is something I try to do with all ...

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I would have graduated from medical school this year.  That’s right.  Just like you, I’d be getting ready to move to another city and take up residence at an academic medical center to begin my clinical training. Things don’t always work out the way we planned: like Lenny and George in Steinbeck’s, Of Mice and Men.  Sometimes, the best-laid plans have a way of going awry no matter how carefully we prepare them. Cancer.  I wasn’t worried. It was ...

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Sometimes in my research on physician/patient communication, I come across a doctor who is so good with her patients, I have to share their bedside manner with you. The most recent example is a (to remain unnamed) oncologist in the northeastern United States who practically gave a primer on shared decision making when caring for a patient with metastatic cancer. The patient (I’ll call her Jennifer Decker) had stage 4 breast ...

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I am a doctor daughter. I am exhausted. My emotions are bubbling close to the surface, and I fear that at any moment, someone will do or say something to me that will cause me to lose control, which I’m not allowed to do because I’m also a female physician in a leadership role, and our emotions must be held in check. I watched one of my mentors be memorialized last ...

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I recognized a glitch in my electronic medical record's decision support software when it prompted me to consider prostate and colorectal cancer screening in a 93-year-old man, who, though remarkably vigorous for his age, was unlikely to live for the additional 10 years needed to benefit from either test. Although deciding not to screen this patient was easy, determining when to stop cancer screening in older patients is often more ...

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Medicine can wear down our hearts and souls.  My journey in pediatrics has been filled with many rewarding experiences but haunting ones as well, like this one from my third year of residency.  By that final year of training, I was no longer certain medicine was really the right choice for me.  I was struggling with the notion that after almost 11 years of education, the destination was not quite ...

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asco-logo I have been drawn to social media (SM) both personally and professionally for many years now, but I still feel like an outlier in using it professionally. There have been ASCO education sessions on this topic, educational book articles, publications, and the like, but many of these take the approach that people don’t really understand SM and what ...

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When it comes to cancer, I'm neither physician nor patient, nor even a policy expert.  But being both a critical thinker and a feminist, I'm struck by what the juxtaposition of two seemingly unrelated new oncology studies, published in highly respected medical journals a month apart, can tell us about how gender shapes the way we perceive (or misperceive) illness, and the impact that has on patients' well-being. On April 14, ...

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I've held many hands, been generous with my hugs, and tried to treat every patient as though they were my mother. I lost my mother to leukemia almost one decade ago. I know what it's like to feel defeated by the health care system, by health care providers, by medications, and by the human body's response to all of the above. A patient will never forget a health care provider that ...

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Just three weeks earlier, she had noticed something strange about one of her breasts. An irregular shape. Her daughter brought her to the doctor, and soon the patient, I’ll call her Amanda, was diagnosed with breast cancer, stage “to be determined.” In fact, she was now in an oncologist’s office, learning what tests she would receive to determine the extent of her tumor. And sitting between her and the doctor ...

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