Monday, November 30, 2015

Behind the Scene but Still on my Team

Over the weekend I read this tweet :
The tweet links to a blog post which describes how a system built by Watson Health using Merge Healthcare data and machine learning can provide an initial recommendation. The recommendation will be based on accessing patient symptoms and cross referencing images with previously diagnosed scans. Basically radiologists could be replaced by machines. The blog ends with recommendations for radiologists to "step into the light".

A friend tweeted

And that got me thinking.

In the past 10 years, my care has included 21 CT scans, 2 PET/CTs, and 11 mammograms. In that time period  I have only met one radiologist. Back in 2005 after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer my gyn-onc sent me for a mammogram to insure that I did not have breast cancer.  I had a script to go that day for a mammogram so they squeezed me into the schedule. After finishing,  the technician asked me to wait for a minute in the room. In walked the radiologist who had called my gyn-onc with the results. They did not want me to wait over the weekend for the results so the radiologist told me my mammogram images were clear. I thanked him and he wished me luck with the chemotherapy treatments.

In every other instance the radiologist who read my scans was behind the scenes. I have copies of the slides of each scan on CDs and also the written report for each scan. The report includes the name of the radiologist who read the scan and wrote the report. The group I use for my scans  has over 50 radiologists listed on their web page.  After years of scans I began to noticed that some of my scans were read by the same person and that was comforting. 

In October 2008, it was a CT scan that found my recurrence on my liver and spleen. (My CA-125 was normal).

So I have lots of reasons to thank the wonderful radiologists at University Radiology for the behind the scenes care they provide.

Becker, MD *
Simoes-DeCarvalho, MD
Winchman, MD*
Needell, MD*
Stein, MD
Amorosa, MD
Epstein, MD
Bramwit, MD*
Tunc, MD*
Lee, MD
Walor, MD
Levitt, MD
Yudd, MD
Einhorn, MD*
Grygotis, MD
Sorkin, MD
Chase, MD 
 *multiple reports

Every Day is a Blessing!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Happy Thanksgiving

I am grateful for
my husband
my children and their spouses
my grandsons
my family - sister, brother-in-laws, sister-in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins,
my dog and my grandpups and grandkittens
my friends near and far
followers of this blog

May you have blessings in abundance.

Every Day is a Blessing

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thankful for: OC Research Support

There are many organizations that raise funds for cancer research. A simple Google search of "organizations that support ovarian cancer research " will give you over 900,000 results. Some of these are large national non-profit organizations with offices and multiple employees with large budgets that support research in addition to other programs such as awareness and legislative advocacy.

But there are also many small, local non-profit organizations throughout the US whose efforts should not go unheralded. They have all volunteer boards, meet in public spaces or around someones dining room table and still manage to make a difference and change the research landscape by supporting established research programs for early detection and treatments as well as young researchers.

Yesterday, I was invited by the GRACEful Hope Foundation to attend their presentation of a check for $30,000 to support ovarian cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. For over 4 years now the GRACEful Hope Foundation lead by the Rocha Family and friends have supported ovarian cancer research to honor the memory of Grace and Erika Rocha.

Another NJ non-profit, Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation , earlier this year presented grant awards to RACHEL N. GRISHAM, M.D. ,Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, to support her research on Deciphering the Biologic Predictors of Response to Targeted Therapy in Low Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer ,LILIE LIN, M.D. , University of Pennsylvania,  to support her Pilot Study of a Novel PARP Inhibitor PET Tracer in Ovarian Carcinoma  and continued funding the project of
GEORGE PRETI, Ph.D., Monell Chemical Senses Center,  A Novel Multidisciplinary Approach to Development of an Effective Ovarian Cancer Screening Diagnostic using Volatile Biomarkers. KOH has provided over 2.7 million dollars to support ovarian cancer research in the past 15 years.

Since 2010, The Teal Tea Foundation has supported Dr. Eric A. Ariazi, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Dr. Elyce Cardonick, Cooper Cancer Institute, Dr. Denise Connolly, Fox Chase Cancer Center and Dr. Lorna Rodriguez, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

The Janice Lopez Ovarian Cancer Foundation supports ovarian cancer research through their annual Concert for a Cure.

Two other small non-profit organizations in NJ that support survivors and raise awareness include
Teal Tender Hearts for Ovarian Cancer Cancer Awareness and The Mary Anne Mazanec Ovarian Cancer Foundation

As a 10 year survivor and someone who has benefited from the research supported by these organizations I am thankful for each and every organization that is making a difference in ovarian cancer research.

Every Day is a Blessing!  


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Back on the Banks Sharing My Story

Last week, I was invited to speak to the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) chapter at Rutgers University. I drove up to the Busch Campus of Rutgers and parked across the street from the Medical School where the talk was taking place.

I was so pleased to be back on the Banks of the Raritan since both my undergraduate and graduate degrees were from Rutgers.

As the students slowly filtered into the auditorium I spoke to KN, a senior and my contact person for the group, about her plans for a career in medicine. Instead of standing at the podium and speaking as if I was lecturing I decided to sit in a chair at a table in the front of the room. It felt more comfortable sharing my story in that way. 

I then began telling my story, interspersing stats and information about symptoms and the importance of having surgery done by a gynecologic oncologist with how I felt when first diagnosed. I shared the hope my gyn oncs provided by simply saying they will do everything to make me well. I thought I would talk about 20 minutes but it ended up being closer to 35 minutes. As I finished my talk I told the future physicians that they should take the time to get to know their patients, and ask them what their goals for the future are. I also told them that they should to be ready to work with others - pharmacists, social workers, nurses to provide the best care for their patients. 

When  I finished my presentation I asked if anyone had questions. One student asked if I ever got upset or angry with my doctors. I told them the only time I ever got upset was when I had to wait for my CT results. I told them of the time when I was in treatment for my recurrence. I had tried everything to stay calm but eventually ended up calling the social worker and asked her to intervene to get me my results quicker. Waiting for results is difficult but it has become a little easier now that  results are posted quickly to health records which can be accessed through a patient portal. 

As I gathered up the extra symptom bookmarks and CDC booklets I had brought with me, a few students came up to chat. One young man talked to me about the importance of nutrition for good health. Then a young lady told me she was planning to become a OB/GYN but will now consider becoming a Gynecologic Oncologist after hearing about my relationship with my gyn oncs. That comment made my night. Maybe in 10 years or so I will be reading about this young lady starting her career as new gyn onc in NJ.

Every Day is a Blessing