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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

An Essay for Doctors, But Useful for Anyone Trying to Understand More About Why Patients Join Walks

My personal view is that “fundraiser walks” for any disease serve the unfortunate role of letting government off the hook when it fails on its obligation to invest in research against cancer and the many other awful diseases. Cancer and other awful disease truly the greatest terrorists in the world, but cancer, for example,  receives perhaps 10% of the funding provide for “homeland security.

But others feel very differently. To that point of view, set out below is a teaser from a thoughtful medical journal essay from a doctor and mother who also is one of the rare people with long-term survival after non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The principles, however, apply to most any walk for any awful disease. The author, Dr. Wendy Harpham, writes essay columns for other doctors. She also writes from the perspective of a person was both smart in choice and lucky in timing; she thrives today because she joined a Phase 1 clinical trial of a then new drug (Rituxan) that succeeded wildly and has extended or saved hundreds of thousands of lives for persons with blood cancers. Remember, her essay is in a medical journal for oncologists’

“Cancer walks open new opportunities for healing. The next time your patients wear a fundraiser t-shirt, consider asking, “What’s the best part for you?” Or, offer one phrase to bolster their self-worth and strengthen your clinician-patient bond: “Thanks for walking.”

Patients who do walks and clinicians are on a shared mission of improving cancer care. UTD students got it right when they emailed me after this year’s walk: “With enough people working together, anything is possible.”

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