Dr. Rudolph Willis
Listen to Dr. Willis explain how CTCA hospitals are different from other cancer hospitals. Most importantly, he describes what treating the whole person is all about.
Dr. Rudolph Willis: I’m Dr. Rudolph Willis, the chief of medical oncology at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. A medical oncologist is essentially a medical doctor as opposed to a surgeon. Of course a surgeon uses tools and he performs surgery. A medical oncologists uses medicines you know to treat disease and difficulties associated with diseases processes. When I think of Nicole, one of my patients I think of words and actually words immediately pop into my mind and no doubt the mind of most people who meet her for the first time. Nicole is equivalent to sunshine, Nicole is equivalent to enthusiasm. Nicole is the kind of patient to says, “Dr. I’m OK, if you’re OK, and I’m OK, and so we’re going to do this, we’re going to get this done and it’s going to be fine.” When you’re see a patient, you’re seeing a person, you’re seeing a human being and that patient becomes Nicole, that patient becomes someone with loved one, someone with a life that is affected them in a host of ways someone who has interacted with other human beings, someone who is interacting with you and will inevitably and should evoke the kind of emotions that remind you you’re taking care of an individual who has great worth and that indeed you have an opportunity to take care of one of the most precious things that we have on this earth, and that’s another human life. You would think that you would intentionally loose touch with that humanity and you know that’s the protective tendency that we physicians have, but particularly us oncologists because as we well know, more times than not we’re dealing with a serious illness with serious and immediate consequences. I think actually it’s just the reverse; I think that humanity grows as you see how patients go through that process and how they survive their disease and how they overcome their disease. I have a young patient she’s very young actually and this patient has had a very difficult time because she’s a healthy athletic patient who unfortunately now has this diagnosis and she’s had a great difficulty not only accepting that but the fear level seemed to have obliterated her capacity to stay focused to pursue the course that we need to take to irradiate her disease, and at the peak of that difficulty, I looked her in the eye and I reminded her, “This is a ship, it’s a ship on sea and we’re a mist of a storm and you’re the captain of the ship, you have a key to the engine to make that ship go where we want it to go but I’m going to keep a copy in my pocket for safe keeping. So, if we lose one we have the other and we’re secure.” Cancer can be a wake up call. Cancer is a potential medal on the wall after the battle is over. Cancer is not equivalent to the end. Cancer is a source of grace. Cancer is all these things and more.