Care as we know it…

…is changing in this rapidly evolving world of COVID-19.

Yesterday there was a twitter chat (amongst medical professionals) that posed the question whether late line chemo should, under the circumstances, be suspended. To my horror many of those chiming in were on board and amongst the comments (the first by the individual who made the original query) were these two gems: ‘…the resources will be needed elsewhere!‘ and’…tying up space and health care workers in chemo war that would be more useful in triage, ICU, ER, etc…’

For the sake of clarity, the post that got me going was this: ‘Oncology Twitter: uncomfortable question. Hospitals are suspending elective surgeries in prep for COVID. Should our field be suspending some chemo–late line, minimal evidence for benefit, etc? Or at least not starting new regimens?

The author is an MD, MPH in medical ethics and health policy.

My response:

Technically my official expiration date was twelve, not thirteen years ago but I was in a state as I posted my response. Livid, actually.

Have we come to this? Advanced cancer patients to the back of the bus/bottom of the food chain? Because my life is worth less than that of a previously healthy person?

Today I spoke to Dr. Lin, my other oncologist. On Thursday I am scheduled to go to MGH for pharmokinetics and a physical, but as these are nonessentials, that appointment would now be virtual. However, I am having a devil of a time with the mucositis. Jess wants me to come in on Thursday for some IV fluids–it is difficult to eat–and to pick up a hard copy scrip for a mouthwash with morphine in it. And we will definitely be going down in dose again.

I asked her if I needed to worry about the trial being scuttled and she responded that they are keeping a close eye on things. That is not yes or no but I understand that we are all making this up as we go along.

I also shared with her the gist of the conversation on twitter, telling her that such sentiment was a source of great anxiety in my community (as if we need more to worry about). She was incredibly sympathetic and supportive and after our conversation, sent me this message:

It was good to talk on the phone.  I just wanted to follow up on what you had shared with me earlier. You (our patients) are so important and special to us.  And so I am so sorry to hear of all of the anxiety and fear that this situation has been causing the community.  It is, of course, not surprising: This has – needless to say – been an incredibly challenging time, full of fast-paced change and uncertainties.  But one thing you can be certain of amidst these uncertainties, is that we will continue to be your physicians and advocates during this time.  We are doing this together, and we’ve got you.’

Which is exactly what I/we need to hear.


7 responses to “Care as we know it…

  1. Linnea Ericson Schordine

    Hang in there….you and your will are so strong. Sounds like she has your back and so do we.

    Linnea (NY)

  2. I was aware of this from your posts yesterday and was equally livid!! The most important thing here is Dr. Lin’s compassionate and supportive reply: “But one thing you can be certain of amidst these uncertainties, is that we will continue to be your physicians and advocates during this time. We are doing this together, and we’ve got you.” So do the rest of “Us” Linnea!❤️✊🏼

  3. “Which is exactly what I/we need to hear.” YES!

  4. I’m so glad your doctor responded the way they all should and eased your mind. ❤️

  5. It occurs to me that you have a rare gift. It’s not uncommon to hear of a parent, most often a mother, who will ROAR like the proverbial momma bear if anyone dares let go of their child. Your rare gift is the ability to do exactly that for YOURSELF.

    And you do it in a way that’s clearly not the least selfish. It’s just perfect. Keep it up. And I hope they share it widely.

    The triage conversation – in Italy and spreading – is damn scary. FLATTEN THE DAMN CURVE so that never becomes necessary. SLOW. IT. DOWN.

  6. Speechless.

  7. Incredible!, how quickly some in our species can revert back to the Middle Ages when it comes to throwing others under the chariot, just to save themselves.
    Dr. Lin has the same extreme dedication to you and her other patients, as Dr. Shaw. And she will turn into a “mother bear” when necessary. I’ve seen her let a whole room full of docs, NP’s, etc. know who was in charge. I can not gush over her enough. She was so good to my husband Peter and a huge support for me. You are so blessed to have her on your team. Love her and you for your courage, strength, and comittment.

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