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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Around an upcoming Bruce Springsteen concert: Patient control over cancer treatment

"At almost any age, there is a desire to exert some control over your environment," says Dr. Holcombe Grier, a pediatric oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "Medical residents need to be thoughtful in doing rounds with me and ask a child, 'I have to listen to your chest. Do you want me to do it here, or do you want to stand over by Mommy?'" Dr. Grier recognizes the importance of respecting young patients' intellects and easing their anxiety by always including them in conversations and decision-making about their care.

When it's clinically safe, physicians will occasionally put off starting a new series of chemotherapy drugs or steroids for a few days so a patient can enjoy a birthday party or other major event. One woman remembers her husband working with his doctor to rearrange a chemo treatment around an upcoming Bruce Springsteen concert.

Advice to cancer patients: Find a doctor who can partner with you against your disease.

Thanks to Saul Wisnia for the source article in the Fall/Winter 2008 issue of the Dana-Farber newsletter, Paths of Progress. This is an excerpt from that article about ways for cancer patients to cope with the ups and downs of treatment.

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