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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Cancer and Uncertainty – How Does It Feel – Advice from Someone Who is There

Uncertainty. Civil trial lawyers know a little something about uncertainty from waiting for judges and juries. Imagine, however, life and death uncertainty. Imagine journeying through 21 years of occurrences and remissions arising from indolent grade III lymphoma. Imagine enduring 9 courses of treatment to stay alive for those 21 years. Imagine taking that experience, and turning it into books, as well as an always succinct and powerful blog: On Healthy Survivorship. Imagine writing insightful medical journal articles and speaking to other doctors about how to better work with cancer patients, survivors, and their loved ones.

You’ve been imagining the uncertainty of life as Dr. Wendy Harpham. Her wonderful blog is here. Her more general website is here. Dr. Harpham’s six books are listed here. And here is her October 18, 2011 blog post to celebrate having reached her 57th birthday.

How can doctors best help patients manage cancer and uncertainty? What it is that patients feel, and that trial lawyers need to understand in some way? Dr. Harpham recently addressed the subject here, in the first of a series of articles she’s writing for a professional publication, Oncology Times, in an article titled: View From The Other Side of the Stethoscope: Managing Uncertainty (Part 1) Background. The full text is here.

Dr. Harpham’s column starts with her history – her story. It’s below. Imagine how it’s felt for 21 years:

"My Story

In 1990 I was diagnosed with Stage III indolent lymphoma. All the textbooks described inevitable recurrence, with successively shorter remissions leading to death. At the time, the median life expectancy of patients with this lymphoma was about seven years. A second recurrence within two and a half years dropped my prognosis to two years. Since entering a clinical trial to treat my third recurrence, no statistics have been available for patients like me.

I’ve received nine separate courses of various therapies, the last of which ended in November 2007. My disease is currently in remission.


The rest of her article is here.

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