One of my closest friends is a two-time breast cancer survivor. Terry (as I’ll call her) has been cancer free for eight years—long enough to be considered cured (generally defined as being in remission at least five years). But in no way is she “free” of cancer. Every abnormal blood test, every callback for another mammogram terrifies her so badly she can’t sleep until doctors rule out a recurrence. In some ways, the ongoing psychological and emotional challenges she faces have been worse than the physical treatments she endured.
I thought about Terry when I read the latest government statistics on the number of cancer survivors in this country. Nearly 12 million Americans—4% of the population—are still alive after a cancer diagnosis.
In many respects this is terrific news, and a testament to improved diagnosis and treatment options. But survivorship comes at a psychological price. We discussed these challenges at length in the Harvard Mental Health Letter, but here’s a quick look at some of the major issues. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*
We found out today that we are going to ship out tomorrow. My feelings are certainly mixed. There is an incredible amount of work to be done here – we have only contributed to the first wave of what is necessary. This may sound strange, but I cannot remember the details of much of what we did the first three days, when we were functioning on hyperdrive in a battlefield setting. My recollections become detailed after the third day, when we were able to see only four or five patients at a time, and we stopped triaging amputees to the operating room.
Now the hospital has been substantially augmented. Teams of foreign (to Haiti) surgeons have left to go home, because the operations to be performed now are largely orthopedic and plastic surgery, as well as specialty cases. Sadly, there are scores of patients with spinal fractures who are paralyzed, and little can be done for them this far out from the initial injury. Children continue to break our hearts. I had a small child who is a triple amputee offer me his cracker with his remaining hand. One can only pray that the memories he carries of this tragedy are erased swiftly, that he is assisted in his rehabilitation, and that his life improves. All of these will, of course, be hard to achieve. Read more »
This post, Leaving Haiti: Small Child – A Triple Amputee – Offers MD A Cracker With His Remaining Hand, was originally published on
Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..