Dr. Sybilann Williams: I am Dr. Sybilann Williams. I am a gynecologic oncologist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
One of the great things about being here is that the connection with the patient is so valued. We have adequate time to see patients; to answer all their questions, to go through scans with them, to take all the time that we need to answer all of their questions and to really make sure that they are a part of the care, that they are participant in the decision-making process and that we are there for them.
At other places where I have been and when I was in academic medicine, the residents that I worked with always knew that I would really get on their case if they were referring to a patient as the breast cancer in room 23. The patient isn’t a breast cancer, it’s Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Jones, she could be your aunt or mother, your sister, and that’s who you are taking care of.
When Lori first came to Cancer Treatment Centers of America she was very afraid. She had also had a little bit of a difficult time in her initial interaction and experience with the medical professional round her diagnosis, and being able to spend some time with Lori and to explain things to her and hopefully also to calm her fears, to be able to explain that she actually had a very good prognosis, that there were many things that could be done and that we expected her to live a long with healthy life, I think really was able to help her make a decision in terms of where she needed to go with her treatment.
All it takes is some, I think TLC. You know, thinking about the patient how would you like to be treated if you were in that position? You would like to have somebody explain to you what’s going on and to be truthful with you, to not hold out false hope but to explain. I have patients come to me who are concerned that they had three months to live and you know, I have no idea why people would say such a thing to a patient.
Obviously, we want to explain the situation but also to hold out hope. There are things that we can do. Often there are things that may not necessarily be curative but there are things that we can do to help people live with the illness that they have and to continue to have a meaningful life for as long as possible.
It’s fantastic when we see patients coming back who are survivors, to know that we have been able to impact on their lives to be able to restore them to health, to really help them to get through this tremendous thing that they have had to deal with in their life, and it’s just marvelous and heart-warming to see.
Cancer is mean. Cancer is tough. Cancer is survivable. Cancer can be beaten.