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Physician Attacked On Message Board Because Commenters Believed His Wife Got Special Treatment For Her Cancer

A Well Blog post series in the NY Times, written by Peter Bach, MD, an attending physician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC, chronicle’s his experiences with his wife’s diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer.

As painful as it was to read of Bach’s wife’s breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, I found reading the comments section on the first few posts to be equally difficult. The comments ranged from supportive to downright vitriolic, as patients took the opportunity to vent at doctors and a medical system that they perceive gave Bach’s wife better access to treatment than theirs. The bitterness that comes through these comments is astonishing, but should not be.

Fortunately, as the series has progressed, the bitter comments have subsided. (And Bach has a much better photo…) His most recent post on how his wife’s doc refused to spout recurrence numbers for them was quite thought (and comment) provoking.

So, Doc, why not just tell us our odds?

Ruth’s oncologist elaborated on his refusal, promising he would tell us the number just as soon as we told him what probability of recurrence would cause us to make different choices for our lives.

Neither of us had an answer.

I encourage you to spend some time reading this excellent series and discussion it has prompted. I wish Dr Bach’s wife all the best for a speedy recovery and both of them many years ahead together.

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

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