Lori Wallace sits on a couch with her 11-year-old son and his new pet snake. It burrows under his armpit, as if afraid. Wallace is sure it’s not. “If he was terrified, he would be balled up,” Wallace said. “See, that is why they are called ball pythons. When they are scared, they turn into a little ball.” Wallace is dying of breast cancer, but a stranger wouldn’t know. She has a ...

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7 a.m. began as it always did; the overnight doc was threatening to quit while rubbing her bloodshot eyes and smearing mascara beneath them. Between heavy sighs, she listed the patients transferring into my care ending with Mr. Mandel. “He’s eighty-something,” she explained, “hospice care. Cancer with metastases. Came in from home because family ran out of morphine and he was in a lot of pain. Anyway, he’s actively dying now, ...

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“Doctor, how would you like your schedule template?” As a hematology/oncology physician in a non-profit hospital group, I am reimbursed by wRVU. This is the standard mechanism of reimbursement for large multispecialty groups and academic centers. In this scenario, the more wRVUs you make, the more you get paid. However, there are only so many hours in the day. One of the first decisions each doctor makes when joining a group ...

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So stated one of our children in their autobiography assignment for school.  I kept reading, curious what would come next. “My dad usually stays home and cleans up, and takes care of the pets.” I thought for a moment.  “That’s very good, honey, but do you think you could write something else about Dad?” I suggested.  “He does other stuff too, add some more nice things.” “OK, how about … ‘And he takes ...

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The diversity of patients seen in any oncologist’s clinic is a microcosm of what makes America so unique. From one room to the next, I am amazed by the various ethnicities, economic backgrounds, and religious faiths that I encounter. Each of these patients forms a composite of beliefs regarding their cancer; just as every tumor we treat is different, so is every patient. This diversity is what makes generalizations in ...

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“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” —George Washington Carver Earlier this week, I walked into the exam room and introduced myself to a 48-year-old male.  As I generally do, I sat in front of him and asked, ...

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asco-logo As an oncologist, I want to provide the best treatment for everyone. That should mean the best chance at a long-lasting remission, if not cure. Whatever that might take. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy -- a dark tunnel that I hope patients will enter and then exit, with the sun shining on the other side. But, every ...

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Born in 1920, Henrietta Lacks lived in Virginia and Maryland, worked as a tobacco farmer, and mothered five children.  At age 31, her life was unfortunately cut short by cervical cancer.  Since her death, she has helped catalyze numerous biomedical discoveries. Upon treatment at Johns Hopkins, Henrietta’s physician obtained a tumor sample.  To his amazement, her cells survived and divided in a petri dish.  Today, her cells are still used in ...

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Dear patient, I meet people several like you on a daily basis. It is always a pleasure to meet you since you come much more prepared compared to the average patient. I have seen you with several sheets of paper or even a notebook, a list of questions and an extra sheet of paper on which to write recommendations. You may even have printed research papers and articles off the Internet. I ...

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Hey ladies! And you gents too! Everyone is affected by breast cancer, either personally or by a family member or friend. Fortunately, we live in a time where breast cancer can be detected earlier and when detected, can be treated and cured. The key is early detection. There seems to be copious amount of information on the Internet: some good, some not so good. Let’s go through a few of these ...

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