asco-logo The couple that entered my office on a warm fall day seemed out of sorts. She looked nervous, and he looked irritated. Before he sat down I heard why he felt that way: “I don’t even know why we’re here.“ I explained briefly what my role is but this did not seem to clear up anything. “I just want her to be ...

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asco-logo Do you ever wonder what the staff in hotel conference rooms think about what we talk about in presentations and lectures? I talk about sensitive stuff -- sexuality, fertility, etc. -- and I use words that many people have not said out loud in front of hundreds or thousands of people. I’m used to the words, of course, and they ...

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asco-logo It’s become a common practice in oncology institutions across North America: A patient completes their prescribed course of treatment and they ring a bell. Usually, it's a large bell, like one that used to be rung in schools signaling the end of recess. Or it's a ship's bell, attached to a wall outside the radiation department or the chemotherapy unit. ...

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asco-logo Going through the process of diagnosis, treatment decision making, and often lengthy treatment without a partner can be challenging. While children, friends, and other family members are supportive, for the single individual, there is no one to talk to in the middle of the night when fear and doubt often surface. I often counsel people who have finished treatment for their ...

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asco-logo The woman waiting to see me looked every inch a lawyer or accountant in her black pencil skirt, pink shirt, and a Chanel-style houndstooth jacket. Her ankle boots were reminiscent of those worn by women in Victorian times with a row of small buttons up the side. She had a scarf loosely knotted around her shoulders, and her hair was ...

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asco-logo I recently attended a lunchtime session on the Choosing Wisely initiative. This public and professional awareness endeavor attempts to educate the public and health care providers about procedures that do not benefit patients, and that may ultimately cause harm. It was an interesting educational session and while most of the content was not new to me, one of the statements by ...

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asco-logo It usually starts with a phone call: “Doc, can I come and talk to you about something?” The “something” might be erectile difficulties or other side effect(s) from prostate cancer treatment. It might be confusion or indecision about what treatment to agree to. I always inform the caller that any of these issues are better resolved if their spouse/partner is present and ...

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asco-logoSarah* is a new patient, referred to me because she is having difficulty deciding on treatment for breast cancer. I don’t know much else about her, and a quick review of her electronic medical record tells me that she is 48 years old and has hormone-positive disease in her left breast. There are numerous missed appointments, and it appears that her ...

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asco-logo As the patient talked, I found myself nodding my head. In so many ways, she was just like me. Highly educated, a professional, a woman who had worked hard and long to get where she was. And then cancer took it all away, or at least that’s the way she described it. She was diagnosed with metastatic cancer one year ...

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asco-logo I am in the privileged and humbling position of hearing the stories of patients’ pasts. Sometimes the stories are so horrendous that it takes all my energy to stop myself from crying as they recount the brutality of their experiences. I have heard harrowing descriptions of all manner of abuse done to patients when they were children. The abuse was ...

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