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- Nurse Barb
I’m reading Atul Gawande’s book Mortality and thought I’d share a story about how I care for my patients as they continue on life’s journey.
Katherine was one of my favorite patients. I met her when she was in her early 70’s and cared for her well into her 90’s. She was a breast cancer survivor and we were monitoring her bone health because she, like 1 in ?? women after menopause had developed osteoporosis. As she aged, our conversations changed. At each visit, she not only provided updates of her medical history, all of her new medications but I also heard the latest on her kids, saw the school photos of her grandkids, and best of all, listened to some of the best travel stories and advice before Trip Advisor was ever created. She and her husband took full advantage of retirement and managed 2- 3 trips each year to exotic locations I could only dream of.
I learned from caring for Katherine to live every moment. She brought in smudged black and white photos of her family smiling in their black rubber boots about to board a sea-plane in the early 60’s in the wilds of Alaska. I remember her telling me about a trip to St. Petersburg when she was 92, and how much she loved going back to visit Paris. “I love to walk wherever I go, the only thing that stops me now, is sometimes I get out of breath as I get older.”
Women, like Angelina Jolie and me, who have a family history of breast cancer worry more about breast cancer according to a new study. One of the best things that I did was to get tested for the BRCA 1 & 2 genes, which helped me have more information and less fear.
Having information and then talking about it with my surgeon, breast specialist and gynecologist helped me feel more empowered. (more…)
Joseph’s brother was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 38 and is now battling a recurrence after 5 years of being cancer free. As they looked closely at the family history, there were several other aunts and uncles who had also had cancer in the stomach, pancreas or bladder. Joseph asked me about genetic testing for himself and his children. He wondered if these cancers were random events or related to a genetic disorder.