How Can I Help My Oncologist?

I often hear people ask, “How can I help my doctor” or “What can I do?” Well I have an idea. I will admit, it’s very self-serving but every penny that I get I will turn over to the American Cancer Society.

If you have read my articles, you know that I have stage 4 prostate cancer. I have had my prostate removed and I am undergoing chemotherapy.

Last year, I began to write a book about physicians and what they go through in training and in life. This plays a large part on how medicine is practiced, and is mentioned in my autobiography, “Self Examination: What You Will Never Know About Your Physician.”

The doctors are the same. I did not know when I was writing this book that I also had cancer. In fact, the book never mentions cancer until the end.

You will learn about my formative years, love of science, the eidetic memory on all science and the fact I wanted to be a physician at age 9! Yes, age 9, my book details all of this. The book also discusses my tremendous empathy for others and why I have that strong feeling.

I go into my medical school training and my residency, where the love (or at times dislike) for patients can be formed. If you read more, you will see why I picked a small town to practice in and ended up running a 16-bed ICU/CCU. Sounds very ego-serving, until you read about the rare autoimmune disease I contracted at age 45, cutting my career short and causing a near-death experience in 2005. Here, I devote an entire chapter to what I felt, saw, heard and why I deeply believe in God.

Keep reading and I will tell you about my 45-year-old patient who had a cardiac arrest and then was resuscitated, telling me he went to hell, not heaven. He description of hell was bone-chilling, much like Dante's Inferno, plus very believable.

In fact, he turned his life 180 degrees around to help others. This character had committed many mortal sins and wanted to see the priest before he left the hospital! He asked me to stay for confession (which I did not do) but explained why. He moved out of town a year later, but came by my office with a hug, and thank you for "saving his soul.” I explained to him that I did help, but he saved his own soul with God, not me.

I just hugged him back, shook his hand and went into my office. I closed the door and wept. I was overcome with emotion. Who would not be!

The book was very hard to write, as I had to remember, recount and confront my own demons, which I will not describe here. I retired at age 56, not by choice, but by illness. All this is written about in great detail. I am extremely specific and hard on my issues, illnesses and experiences, as well as being tough on my colleagues. What my profession does for money is sickening.

I hope my book explains why when you see your doctor, don't expect Marcus Welby!