Friday, May 18, 2012

Grand Rounds and the Well-being of Ovarian Cancer Survivors

A few weeks ago I came across the community calendar for St Peter's University Hospital. In the Save the Date section was a listing for the Rosenzweig Lecture "Coping and Hope in Ovarian Cancer". The talk was to be given by Lois Ramondetta, MD. I thought the name sounded familiar so I went to my bookshelf and sure enough she wrote the book The Light Within ~The Extraordinary Friendship of a Doctor and Patient Brought Together by Cancer. I bought and read  the book in 2009 on a recommendation from another blogger. The book is about the relationship between Lois and her ovarian cancer patient Deborah Rose Sills , a professor of religion.

I thought I might want to attend the Lecture and also have Dr Ramondetta sign my copy of her book. When I called St Peter's to ask if it was ok for a survivor to attend I was told they would love to have survivors in the audience. I shared the info with my support group and my friend Sandy said she'd come with me.

When we arrived this morning to the Sr Marie de Pazzi Conference Center we learned that this Lecture was part of the Grand Rounds for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Continuing Medical Education . Grand Rounds is "designated to update obstetricians, gynecologists and sub-specialists on clinical issues and current trends in medicine".  I thought we might feel out of place since Sandy and I were the only ones in the room not in white coats but Abby from the Department made us feel very welcome.

Dr Carlson began the Rounds by thanking the family of Toby Rosenzweig for their support of the lecture series and then he introduced Dr Ramondetta  who is from The University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center. Dr Ramondetta presented "Meaning and Peace : Physicians and Patients Coping with Cancer".  She spoke about the importance of the spiritual well-being of patients especially those with ovarian cancer. In order for doctors to take care of the spiritual well-being of their patients Dr Ramondetta  said we needed a definition of spirituality. She uses the  2009 Consensus Statement Definition of Spirituality ( found below) in her work.

Spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred.

A survey showed most doctors are not questioning their patients about their spirituality or well-being. Dr Ramondetta mentioned a number of different methods to determine patient needs. She stressed to the med students that they might not need a formal surveying instrument and that they should listen to their patients since what a patient says may open the door to a discussion.  She referenced a study in which cancer patients reported it was very important to have their psychosocial needs met .

Dr Ramondetta has been studying the well-being of patients with ovarian cancer at three locations- MD Anderson Cancer Center , an academic medical center and a community hospital. Her results will be presented at an ASCO poster session. I will be sure to view her poster when I am in Chicago.

Since stress can impact a patient's well-being and immune system  Dr Ramondetta also discussed the work of Dr Sood (MD Anderson) on stress and ovarian cancer.  There is currently an open clinical trial in which newly diagnosed ovarian cancer patients are receiving beta blockers along with chemotherapy.

When the lecture was over Sandy and I went over to talk to Dr Ramondetta. I introduced myself as an ovarian cancer survivor and she was kind enough to sign my book.  I thanked her for the advice she gave to the med students about seeing the whole patient not just the disease.

I only chatted with Dr Ramondetta for a short time but I could see why Deborah developed such a close friendship with her.

It makes me feel good to have a gyn-onc who treats all of me not just my disease and one I call friend. Thank you Doctor Gibbon.

Every Day is a Blessing!

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