Category Archive: Oncology/Hematology

The key to this patient? Horseshoes.

“Those who suffer illness learn by hearing themselves tell their stories, absorbing others’ reactions, and experiencing their stories being shared.” – Arthur Frank We stand together at the clinic room door, preparing to enter. “Tongue cancer. This is a 78-year-old man with an oral cavity mass and some memory loss. He had an ulcer on […]

What my mother needs is a daughter, not a doctor

My mom was recently diagnosed with cancer. I can’t even begin to describe the shock I felt or how my heart just sank. In an otherwise healthy person with no family history, this is not something you ever expect to happen. My mind immediately jumped to so many different conclusions, and I immediately wanted answers. […]

Dealing with prejudice as a cancer patient

I sat in seat 23F next to the window, took out my leftover dinner from my backpack, and furiously started eating. A few minutes later, a man wearing an Astros baseball cap sat next to me with a puzzled look. “You sure look hungry.” “I am, can’t beat fried noodles with chicken. My name’s T.J. […]

MKSAP: 56-year-old man with painless intermittent bloody urine

Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 56-year-old man is evaluated for painless intermittent bloody urine of 6 weeks’ duration. History is significant for granulomatosis with polyangiitis (formerly known as Wegener granulomatosis) diagnosed 10 years ago, which is now in remission; he was treated with prednisone for […]

MKSAP: 56-year-old man with painless intermittent bloody urine

Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 56-year-old man is evaluated for painless intermittent bloody urine of 6 weeks’ duration. History is significant for granulomatosis with polyangiitis (formerly known as Wegener granulomatosis) diagnosed 10 years ago, which is now in remission; he was treated with prednisone for […]

A breakdown of your pathology report

I’m a pathologist and the main way I communicate to the outside world — to your doctor and ultimately to you, the patient is via the pathology report. But the short missives I send from behind the microscope lack any excitement and can fall short of full communication. Here’s the usual story: Skin left scapula, […]

The dismantling of informed consent is a disaster

Informed consent is the cornerstone of medical ethics. And every physician must defend this sacred principle from every form of evil that would seek to dismantle, degrade and debase it. If informed consent is the sun, then privacy, confidentiality, dignity, and trust are planets that go around it. For without informed consent, the descent of […]

Quality over quantity in life and care

The surgical team filed out of the patient’s room. I looked over my shoulder to see a shaken daughter holding the wrinkled hand of her quiet, elderly mother who lay in the bed. I shuddered as I thought of the surgery her body would endure the next day. I knew I needed to return to […]

100 percent satisfaction doesn’t work in our health system

“I want answers!” My mother was upset over the care for her ill husband. Previously able to converse normally, he was now incoherent and disoriented. The recent recipient of a bone marrow transplant to treat his advanced leukemia, he probably experienced a brain infection because of the immune suppression therapy needed to accept the marrow. […]

When men struggle with treatment decisions

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 […]

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