Rock N Roll in the OR

                    There are sounds in the operating room: the clash of instruments, the rhythmic breathing of a patient on a ventilator, the EKG tracing beeping away, the cacophony of laconic orders and requests from the surgeon or the scrub nurse. I suppose every surgeon wants to think he or she is making music while operating—a symphony, a rock opera, a silly little love song, a ballad with deep meaning. The presence of…

Apoptosis–Falling Leaves in Autumn

I loved the word APOPTOSIS when I first heard it applied to cancer treatment. It was the aPOPtosis pronunciation that caught my attention as I imagined cancer cells exploding from chemotherapy and champagne corks aPOPing in celebration. I was so wrong. I still love the word, but its meaning is far less dramatic than I initially thought. Its Greek origin is obvious, but the proper pronunciation erases its onomatopoetic oomph. If the second “p” is silent, as it should be, then…

An Old Italian Man and the Modern Surgeon

The operation didn’t go so well. No big problems or catastrophes, but just a series of small missteps by the staff. Instruments were not in the room, suture material wasn’t on the field, nurses didn’t understand my routines, and my assistant wasn’t too responsive. Granted, it was a new crew and I was patient with them, but we just plodded along with neither rhythm nor efficiency. In the end the operation was a success, but it wasn’t pretty. Annoyed, I…

No Curtain Calls, No Tony Nominations

It is called the operating room. In past times and in some circles it might be called the operating theater. If you are British, you might call it the operating theatre. One has visions of the Thomas Eakins painting “The Agnew Clinic” where an operation–interestingly, a partial mastectomy–plays out in an amphitheater- like setting. We don’t know if it’s “in the round.” The seats are occupied by the surgeon’s colleagues and curious students. The painter even managed to put himself…

The Sorcerer’s Scalpel and Paperboys in Early Morning Hours

  A 7;30 start in the operating room. How I love 7:30 starts. On the highway to the operating room at 6:30. I won’t be late. I respect the hour. The city is still asleep. Not much traffic. It was an easy drive.  I thought about the days of my surgical training. The surgical team would arrive in the hospital by 6 AM for rounds, catching up with the night’s events and planning the needed tasks for the day. Then,…

Science and the Artful Clinician on Science Day

Yesterday (April 22) was Earth Day or Science Day or some combination of the two. There were marches supporting Science which is a little like marches supporting motherhood. Whatever political agenda may be in play here, I have no problem supporting Science and certainly in the work I do as a physician. For the past forty years that I have been in the medical field I have heard numerous complaints about the American healthcare system. Actually, over those forty years,…

Breast Cancer Surgeons Unprotected and Vulnerable

We Breast Cancer Surgeons are unprotected and vulnerable. We treat breast cancer and protect vulnerable women from the ravages of the disease. Yet we ourselves cannot avoid the awful calamities of life. No better example of this was the recent death of Dr. Jan Huston-Pryor, a Breast Cancer Surgeon from New Jersey. I didn’t know her personally, but knew of her. She was walking her dog one morning recently and was struck by a car and killed. Coincidentally, Dr. Jeanne…

Breast Cancer on the Run in October: (Day 31) Synergy, Everyone and Everything

The previous 30 posts were randomly arranged. I suppose I could have ordered them on a chronological timeline, but I don’t think it would have been as interesting.

Breast Cancer on the Run in October: (Day 30) Breast Cancer and the Women’s Liberation Movement

I started this series talking about the role of women in offering support to breast cancer victims, raising awareness about the disease, putting pressure on the medical establishment to change, and raising money for research.

Breast Cancer on the Run in October: (Day 29) Stage 4 Breast Cancer as A Chronic Disease

Stage 4 breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer–these words terrify patients. And for good reason. Few people in the past survived the diagnosis for very long.