Friday Favorites 12/6/2013

stethoWhen I was forty, I had a primary physician, Dr. Campagna, who was close to the perfect doctor for me.  He was my doctor.   My only doctor.  Oh, occasionally, I’d have to see a specialist for something … say, a tennis elbow operation or a torn meniscus … but they were one-malady-stands, not my doctors.  Between forty and sixty-nine, I have accumulated a few more medical companions.  There is my cardiologist who looked after me after several panic attacks posing as heart attacks and did a thorough workup when I passed out on my bicycle then crashed into a parked car.  I have my gastroenterologist who probes my insides every five years with a garden hose to make sure nothing unwanted has taken root there.  I acquired my urologist because … well, because an old(er) man needs a urologist.  I’ve heard older people complain about having to see doctors more often … and about the quality of medical care in the United States. I’m not one of those people.  My first sponsor … who is ten years older than I and traveled this path before me … always said, We’re lucky to live in a time when doctors can save us from ailments that would have been fatal only fifty years ago.  And my personal experience with doctors has been almost universally good.   That may be partly my attitude … I don’t expect them to be perfect and I’m rarely intimidated by them, even when they are arrogant.  They do work for me, after all, even if they don’t know it.

Some years ago, my wife Muri acquired her own oncologist, Dr. Lloyd, when she was diagnosed  with breast cancer.  An oncologist is not the kind of doctor you imagine having … until you need one.   Muri went through surgery and radiation treatments, followed by years of treatment with Tamoxifen and Femara.  It was one of the most difficult times in our marriage but the grace with which she handled it made me love her more than ever.   And beyond my own good experience with the medical community, I’ve found medical staff at the St. Jude Cancer Center simply remarkable.   When it came time for Muri to stop taking the anti-cancer drug, Femora … medical research has shown that after a certain period of time its effectiveness wanes and and it does have some side effects … she told her oncologist that it worried her, that she saw the medication as her safety net.  Let me be your safety net, Dr. Lloyd told her.  That’s what a doctor is supposed to sound like.

People who’ve had cancer will tell that once you been diagnosed with the disease, a trip to the doctor is never the same again and it’s true.  Nor is it ever the same for the spouse.  Muri sees her oncologist every six months.  There have been a few false alarms leading to mammograms and ultrasounds and anxious weeks which only add to the drama.  Every six months I wait for her call when she leaves Dr. Lloyd’s office, hoping I’ll hear relief in her voice not tears.  Yesterday was her day to see doctor Lloyd.   Everything’s OK, she said when she called.  That is the best gift I can possibly receive this holiday season.   And it’s my Friday Favorite every single time it happens, even if it’s not a Friday.

BC awarenessFootnote:  According to the National Cancer Society, breast cancer strikes 232,340 women and  2,240 men annually.  The prognosis for recovery depends upon the particular type of cancer but regardless of type, early detection increases the likelihood of recovery through surgery, radiation treatments and medication.   Early detection also reduces the likelihood of extreme measures like mastectomy or chemotherapy.  The National Cancer Society  suggests the following for the early detection of breast cancer:

  • Have yearly mammograms starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a you are in good health
  • Have a clinical breast exam (CBE) about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over
  • Know how your breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to your health care provider
  • Perform a breast self-exam regularly once you reach twenty (directions here).

Lifestyle changes (here) can also reduce the likelihood of breast cancer.

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3 Comments on “Friday Favorites 12/6/2013”

  1. glenn Says:

    I was in the Dr’s office this morning waiting for my appointment. “Everything here is fine,too” But I am commenting because there was a TV with a Dr program that spoke to your topic. It was about a few young women who apparently stylishly kept their cell phone tucked in their bra. Though there was no absolute proof, there seemed to be a lot suggesting that keeping a cell phone next to your breast could cause cancer especially in young women.

    • oldereyes Says:

      I’ve never heard that but there’s certainly been a lot of news about cell phone radiation and cancer. It’s certainly worth knowing it’s a possibility as a precaution.

  2. Boy, can I ever relate to this post about you and your Doctors and Muri’s concerns with the cancer. Ten years ago, I didn’t even have a family doctor as the last one in this area I’d had retired about 8 years before that! But in March of 2003, via a colonoscopy, learned I had colo-rectal cancer and from that test, got acquainted with the first of several surgeons I’ve come to know. There was Dr. Phillips, then a urologist/surgeon in Pittsburgh, Dr. Khoury, the first oncologist I saw, Dr. Shocker -the radiologist, then Dr. Hughes in Pittsburgh, an excellent surgeon who specialized in internal medicine I think. (My daughters and I loved him to pieces not just for his abilities to treat the patient but also for his beautiful Frank Sinatra eyes and we referred to him too as “Dr. Blue Eyes!” After him there came my most recent surgeon who is a gynocological-oncologist and him I really like very much too! I’m now dealing with the 3rd oncologist in about as many years at the Cancer Center here. But through all of these various doctors and treatments, surgeries and trips to Pittsburgh, etc., I have to say I’ve been very comfortable in my dealings with each one of them along the way as I do believe each gave me the best care possible!

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