Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Life's Coincidences

When I'm not raising boys, building a business, or browsing social media like it is my job, I am a residency coordinator at a teaching hospital. I enjoy my job. It introduces me to all sorts of people, from all sorts of places. Seeing these medical students and residents learn, hearing their passion and enthusiasm, it gives me such hope for our future. These people are smart, y'all.

Recently I was making small talk with my new chief resident. Nothing out of the ordinary, small talk. I asked him about his interests, where he hopes to end up--surgical oncology--and his future plans. We're walking through a long tunnel and he says that he matched with a surgical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and will be working with my Dr. Glinda.

Jaw dropped.

Readers from the early days know Dr. Glinda, AKA in real life as Dr. Charlotte Ariyan. I absolutely, positively adore her. Dr. Ariyan's kindness, intelligence, awesome surgical skills, and bed side manners made her a super hero in my book.

So, of course I had to tell this resident my story.

Now it was his turn to drop his jaw.  "You're very fair skin..I guess you take care of your skin?"

The conversation lead to the most recent research out of MSK: "The results of a new study indicate that immediate surgical removal of remaining lymph nodes does not improve survival compared with a watch-and-wait approach." It was very interesting to hear his thought process and then have him ask for my treatment experience and opinion.

If you have any doubt that research is benefiting melanoma patients, this is proof.  Dr. Ariyan co-authored this study. 6.5 years ago, Dr. Ariyan helped me reach the conclusion to have the surgery. OK, I shouldn't say she helped me reach the decision. She basically told me in her very kind way that it comes down to what I'm comfortable with. She explained that if we did the surgery, I would know if there was remaining cancer in my lymph nodes. That would change things in terms of available clinical trials and statistics. We sat in that examine room and talked about the many side effects that could occur if we choose to proceed with the surgery. She gave me the info...and then she talked to me like a friend.

I have no regrets about going through with the two full lymph node dissections. I'm one of the lucky ones. The lasting side effects are pretty much non-existent. How would I feel now if this research had been available then? I don't know.

Anyway...I love life's coincidences. Oh--and I have total faith in this resident. ...I just have no desire to see him in a non-educational setting. ;-)

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