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Why I Love My Doctors

April 05, 2017

On National Doctor Day, Doug Balder, architect and community activist, shared his story of why he loves his doctor. In 2015 Doug was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma Stage 3. Multiple Myeloma is a blood cancer that can affect your bones. Doug has 7 compressed fractures in his back. 

                                    

Why I love my doctors....let me count the ways.

Hello Care+Wear community. As a cancer patient and participating in a clinical trial, while I do have a lead oncologist, a rather large team cares for me. That is a benefit of a trial. In addition to Dr. Sundar Jagannath and Dr. Ajai Chari, there are nurse practitioners like Erika Florendo, and many nurses, nurse assistants, administrative team members, clinical trial administrators, orthopedic specialists, pain management doctors, radiologists, and on and on. A big team!

The team is patient centric, friendly, smart and expert. One thing I have learned as a patient is that I must be patient and work to get to know the team and its members, just as they must get to know me. And as I have gotten to know them and build relationships with them, they adjust the medical care to fit how I want to live with cancer.

For instance, I work hard at exercising and often talk with Dr. Jagannath about how successfully I am doing that. Since he knows that about me and is supportive, that has meant not moving forward with back surgery, which has served both of us well - I am able to maintain some equilibrium with respect to fractured vertebrate and delaying surgery means not risking a result of surgery, provoking the spread of cancer. I love that Dr. Janannath takes the time to have this dialogue with me. I am an architect and he will explain the structure of my back in architectural terms so that I can understand how exercises are good or bad for my spine. He uses his knowledge of how I am living to support the medical treatment with diet, supplements, and exercise, using fewer drugs in favor of what I want to do. Dr. Jagannath and I have gotten to know one another over the past two years and I have noticed that we have developed a short hand communication that takes fully into consideration how I want to do my cancer and treatment. I am deeply appreciative that he expresses his humanity so fully. 

When Dr. Jagannath is away at medical conferences and Dr. Chari steps in, he advises in a different but compatible way with Dr. Jagannath's consultations. It can be like getting a second opinion that adds to, not contradicts, my understanding of the disease and treatment. He speaks about data and how data is needed to make certain medical decisions, especially when it comes to chemotherapy- without data we don't know or can't advise! I have attended several lectures that Dr. Chari has given to patients and caregivers; that he makes the time to speak to patients about where cancer research and treatments are headed and then takes the many questions we all have is very moving. I am lucky to have a full relationship with these doctors. 

Erika Florendo, who I see every 28 days for the chemotherapy prescription renewal and have seen since starting chemotherapy two years ago not only supports the physicians, she helps to raise money for cancer research! She can answer all of my questions with the expertise of a physician and often helps me shape questions I do have so that when I meet with the doctor, I have a better question.

The staff that touches many parts of this complex treatment process is amazing with all patients and I actually love visiting with them when I am hooked up to the equipment. I check in on their families, kids, and what they are doing. It may sound weird but I look forward to seeing them when I visit the Ruttenberg clinic. Yes, I am living with a terminal disease and need the team, and there is a humanity about this that is indescribable and transcends the disease.

I express my deep appreciation to the team. I know their names, I bake cookies for them, and thank them profusely. And they are very modest, work very hard and hundreds of patients rely on them, for their lives. The team is focused on our quality of life, not only when we are not at the cancer clinic but also when we are. The time spent with them is a joy and for that reason, I love them all.

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