Choosing a doctor in the midst of a cancer diagnosis can be an emotional and daunting process. At a time when patients are already feeling overwhelmed, they have to process enormous amounts of information, evaluate options, and ultimately choose to trust a medical team with their lives. Recently, in response to an open letter to cancer doctors by Betsy de Barry at AnnArbor.com, Dr. Gary Hammer wrote an open letter to cancer patients. Dr. Hammer is a world-renowned adrenal cancer specialist at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. In his letter, he describes his perspective of sharing the cancer experience with his patients. He discusses his awareness of patient expectations, fears, and frustrations. He also writes about the process of helping his patients at the end of their lives.
“As a physician engaged in the care of people with a particular rare cancer – where those under my care almost always die — I am thankful for the sharing of truths that have been unveiled to me by these men and women in this, their most vulnerable and internal sanctuary.
In this place of finding themselves dying, brave people have let me into their space where three truths seem to be unveiled again and again as defining gifts of sacredness. These truths can be embraced as three reflections of the word “presence:” conscious engagement, the experience of present time (the razor-sharp now) and the gift of emotional authenticity.” Dr. Gary Hammer
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