Dr. Wendy Harpham is a doctor of internal medicine, cancer survivor, and award-winning and best-selling author of books about cancer: Healthy Survivorship, recovery and late effects, and raising children when a parent has cancer. She is also a public speaker, patient advocate, and mother of three.
Last Tuesday I had a big night: a local book launch for Only 10 Seconds to Care. But I'm saving a post about that magical evening for another day. Today I have to tell you about the speaking event I did Friday morning.
The Mayo Clinic News is running a story about some promising research findings: ER-CHOP yields better results than R-CHOP in early studies of patients with diffuse large-cell lymphoma. Why am I bothering to post about it, since I have never had this particular disease, and most of my readers do not have it either?
E = epratuzumab (a monoclonal antibody) R = Rituximab (a different monoclonal antibody) CHOP = a 4-drug chemo cocktail
The "friends and family" coupon is good only through 5/29/09. If you'd like to order a copy of Only 10 Seconds to Care, go to the ACP website and put in priority code BOTSTC to save 20% off the cover price with free shipping.
My May 19th post -- "Doc, how much time do I have?" -- I offer some ideas about why a physician might tell a patient how much time he or she has left. I concluded by posing a question: How should physicians answer that question?
Commentor Finn offered an excellent answer that I'll share here, with my highlights: "I think they should preface their reply with "Of course no one can say for sure. All I can tell you is that among people your age and condition, at this stage of the disease when treatment stops working, the average is ____________ [a range].
However, it can be shorter or longer. These are statistics about large groups of people, and not specific to you or any one individual. They can't predict what you will experience."
Finn goes on to say, "It might be even better to start with explaining what the patient should expect in terms of energy, symptoms, debility, etc., as the disease progresses, before talking about numbers.
I haven't been in this situation but I'm thinking people ask the question because they want to know what to expect, to help them make decisions and plans, and not just a date. I think doctors should neither dodge the question nor be overly specific or confident in the times they give, but they do owe it to the patient to do what they can to explain why such predictions may be educated guesses but are nevertheless guesses."
Ooops. Yesterday's early birds who checked out my blog first thing in the morning found only the title and intro. Sorry 'bout that. I was interrupted and then forgot to finish. If you visit the post now, it's done.
A dear friend introduced me to a wonderful term: one-er. A one-er is an event that only comes once in a lifetime. If you miss it, you missed it forever. No repeat performances. No second chances. Can you think of examples?
In "Bittersweet Bye" I shared the news that my wonderful internist was closing her medical practice. So last week I established myself with my children's internist. As much as I hated to leave the expert and compassionate care of my longtime physician, I enjoyed a few unexpected surprises.