When I was 16 my dad had a heart attack. I still recall studying in my room when my mom came in to tell me he wasn’t feeling well. At the time, I was a volunteer in the emergency room at our local hospital, located in the tiny Pacific Island of Guam. I recall asking him what he was experiencing: ...

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“You look amazing!” It was the first thing out of my mouth upon seeing Sharon.* She is a woman in her mid-seventies, and she has recurrent ovarian cancer. We had met after she was diagnosed with recurrence, only five months after the end of her “curative” treatment. At the time, we talked about her life—how she had been a nurse before ...

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As a member of the Integrated Media and Technology Committee of ASCO, I have tried to champion the benefits of social media, whether it be on blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, or otherwise. As I have become more engaged in various outlets, it has become apparent that these channels offer more than an opportunity to discuss the latest research and meet or ...

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During Multidisciplinary Gynecologic Oncology Tumor Board at Massachusetts General Hospital, a case was presented of an older woman with stage IV ovarian cancer who was deemed inoperable. Following review, we recommended a course of chemotherapy. I asked our fellow what treatment she would administer, and this sparked a discussion on how patients and providers create a treatment plan. We discussed options, ...

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I have been thinking about the cancer experience—what it must be like to be on the receiving end of a cancer diagnosis, to live with cancer, and to experience the treatments; to receive the news that treatment worked or that it didn’t. I also have been thinking about what it must be like to “carry” a diagnosis of cancer around. ...

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On a recent trip to Philadelphia, I caught up with Dan, a friend of mine since college. He is an artist in Philly, where he lives with his wife and daughter. He had asked me about being an oncologist, told me he had read my ASCO blogs. We spent hours discussing everything—parenthood, careers, and mutual friends, and one in particular. Her ...

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“Everything must change, nothing stays the same. Everyone will change, no one stays the same.” Technology is amazing. I love to download random songs on my iPhone and listen to the songs that populate. On one bright early morning, Oleta Adams came on. The song was “Everything must change.” It’s a beautiful and haunting, somewhat sad but at the same time hopeful, song. It stirred up memories, and I found myself ...

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I was recently asked to speak at hematology-oncology Grand Rounds at Rhode Island Hospital. Instead of my usual topics on gynecologic cancers or sexual health, my colleague, MaryAnn Fenton, had asked me to speak to them about promotion in academics. I was both touched and taken aback that I was now in a position to give that kind of advice. ...

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In oncology, there are certain words and phrases that (no matter how carefully said) suck the air out of a room, like "you have cancer," "you've recurred," "incurable," "terminal," and "hospice." Such phrases require careful consideration before they are spoken, and most (if not all) oncologists understand the power of these words, and use them carefully. However, there are others that can ...

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Recently, I passed my friend and colleague, Dr. Ekaterini Tsiapali, in the stairwell. We rarely get to catch up these days, so it was really quite a nice surprise to see her. "What did you do this weekend?" I asked. "I watched Wit, you know, the movie where Emma Thompson plays Dr. Vivian Bearing, a 50-year-old woman with terminal ovarian cancer? She's such ...

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I recently talked about wondering how those I had met through my own patients were doing, especially after my patients had passed on. I wondered if they were all right and whether they were able to move on. Well, I've been thinking about it again, though this time in the context of cancer survivorship. The Office of Cancer Survivorship of ...

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At the end of the year, I find myself thinking about patients usually—and especially those that have passed away. I wonder how their families are coping, how their children are, and whether each day has gotten easier. I think about how my patients died—and whether or not I did enough to ensure that they did not suffer. It's an odd thing ...

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Recently, a very dear friend learned that her breast cancer (diagnosed in 2010) had spread to her brain. Despite my many years as an oncologist, having faced questions from my own patients about "Why me?", "What did I do to deserve this?"—questions I am fully aware have no answer—I found myself asking the same questions, expressing the same anguish: "Why ...

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I’ve been given permission to deliver the National Consortium of Breast Centers (NCBC) position statement. It does a far better job with a critique of the USPSTF Screening recommendations than I did when I shared my first thoughts. As the President for the NCBC, I want to acknowledge the work done on behalf of our organization by our Policy Chairpersons, Drs. John Bell and Barbara Rabinowitz, both of whom are ...

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Recently, two groups released new guidelines that may affect breast cancer and cervical screening in women. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against screening women in their 40s and to screen women every other year starting at age 50. The USPSTF left room for individualized screening, particularly in the presence of risk factors such as family history. Still, it is ...

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