The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast

Echoes of Courage: Insights from Cancer Patients

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen talks to Dr. Christina Gomez, a GI medical oncologist at Banner MD Anderson in Phoenix, Arizona. They talk about how doctors can best break bad news to their patients as well as her journey to writing her book, “Stopped in My Tracks”.

  • [00:00] Introduction
  • [06:08] Advice For Giving Bad News
  • [10:14] “Stopped in My Tracks: A Physician’s Collection of Cancer Patients’ Quotes”
  • [19:08] Sharing Quotes and Support Groups
  • [21:07] What Dr. Gomez Would Change About US Healthcare
  • [23:07] Parting Thoughts

How Dr. Gomez Wrote “Stopped in My Tracks”

“I got all the pain, but she got all the suffering.” These were the words that touched Dr. Gomez and drove her to write her book “Stopped in My Tracks”, a collection of words and quotes from her patients under her care. Doctors are trained to send messages to their patients, both good and bad, and they pray that they can deliver them well. But instead of jotting down pearls of knowledge like how she was trained in med school, she started jotting down her patients’ words instead, which would literally stop her in her tracks. She would then ask her patients to pause, repeat their words, and she would write it down on any piece of paper she could find. Thus, her book was born.

Dr. Gomez’s Advice for Giving Bad News

Dr. Gomez has two pieces advice when it comes to giving bad news to their patients. First, is that patients want to know. She learned throughout her career that patients always want to know their diagnosis and will always ask about it. As a med student, she thought that patients wouldn’t want to know more details about their diagnosis, such as how studies might say that they only have 18 months, or that the new drug can only buy two months compared to the placebo or the standard of care. It should always be a doctor’s honour and privilege to deliver these bad news to the patients. Secondly, silence is powerful and loud and is a way to communicate with patients, especially learning how to practice our pauses. After all, our silence can and is able to heal.

Get Dr. Christina Gomez’s book “Stopped in My Tracks: A Physician’s Collection of Cancer Patients’ Quotes” at Itasca and Amazon, and reach out to her through her website.

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Erkeda DeRouen

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen is a graduate of Hampton University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, followed by completing medical school at the Boston University School of Medicine. She then completed residency at The University of Maryland Family and Community Medicine Program. After that, she worked at an underserved community health center, and currently is an Associate Medical Director of a telemedicine company. She recently became one of the first 1,000 lifestyle medicine certified physicians in the world! Her areas of interest include: health equity and eliminating health disparities, service of underserved populations, HIV management, transgender care, mentorship, and lifestyle medicine.

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