Friday, January 19, 2018

What Makes a Good Doctor?

I have been fortunate enough to find a home in academic medicine. Most of that time I’ve spent in oncology—working with residents, fellows, and colleagues on projects, whether they be chart-based or prospectively designed trials. I’ve lectured a ton, and written even more. Yet, my experience in academia has also allowed me to help choose future medical students, residents, and fellows, and this has perhaps been one of the most important aspects of the profession.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Holidays in Cancer Land

December is a tough time for me. I find myself wishing the inpatient wards would be emptying and we would have successive nights without a patient needing to be urgently admitted. I fantasize that my patients, and those being treated for cancer by my colleagues, will have a respite, to go home, be with family, open presents, and a good holiday meal. Sadly, this is never the case. Patients will be diagnosed during the holiday season, some will require surgery, others will continue on chemotherapy. Some will receive good news that their cancer has responded, or that they are in remission. Others will be told that their cancer has progressed or that treatment has not worked or that they are dying. The wheels of medicine will continue to turn and we, as oncologists, will continue to care for our patients.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mourning and Oncology

I was driving to work one morning (a fresh change after five years relying on the red line to MGH) and as part of my new routine, I listen to The Moth podcast. If you do not know it, it’s a wonderful community of storytellers—compelling stories, told by people from every walk of life. I often find myself drawn in to the program (like a moth to a flame as it were), and before I know it, I’ve reached my destination, whether it be hospital or home.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Goals and Preferences

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 now and then, I have a patient who chooses not to pursue the regimen that I think will bring her the best chances. Looking back, I remember such was the case with a woman who sticks out in my own mind. Let’s call her Rachel*.