To Test or Not to Test | Dee Sparacio
Recently Angelina Jolie was in the news, not for her latest movie, but for having a preventative mastectomy to reduce her risk of developing breast cancer. Angelina had genetic testing done and had learned she carried the BRCA1 & 2 mutations. The mutations placed her at a higher risk for breast and ovarian cancer than the average women. Jolie’s mother had passed away at the age of 56 due to ovarian cancer.
A Seat at the Big Table | Erin Stevens, MD
The first Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) meeting I went to was in January 2011, my first year of fellowship. The January meeting is in sunny San Diego, which was a stark contrast to the bleak winter New York City had that year. I was eager for a break from the clinical service and looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about the clinical trials I had been enrolling patients into for the last six months. I had attended many educational meetings before, but the SGO Annual Meeting is very different from the GOG Semi-Annual meeting.
‘Research for her’ registry seeks increased female representation | B.J. Rimel, MD
Historically, relatively few women have participated in clinical research, and as a result, the medical science community has often ignored biological differences between men and women. In an effort to close this gap and study the risks associated with female cancers, the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center and the Cardio-Oncology Program have opened an online registry, research for her, to increase the number of women participating in cancer research studies. As the co-principal investigator of the research for her registry in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai, I am hopeful that we can improve women’s involvement in clinical trials.
A Global Effect | Dee Sparacio
N: I’m on Avastin and my CA-125 is up. Did this happen to anyone else?
K: Anyone have experience with HIPEC?
C: Sorry I haven’t been on. Just out of hospital. Ascites drained 1.5 liters.
Changing Red to Black | B.J. Rimel, MD
Every day after clinic, I sit with my list of patients in front of the computer screen. I type in the login and the password that keeps changing every month. Entering each medical record number, I wait for the electronic medical record to load so I can view the results. In my deepest, most secret place in my heart I say a little prayer for black. Black numbers are good, inside the normal range. Red numbers are the computers way of alerting me that the value I’m expecting is outside of the normal range and something is not as I want it to be.
Being a Fellow in the Era of Facebook | Erin Stevens, MD
“I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
It all started on the interview trail. Someone started a Facebook group to keep everyone in touch though the interview process. Who was going to be at what interview, sharing hotel rooms, all the while quietly calculating where you think you fit in the grand scheme of things.
Making Our Voices be Heard | Dee Sparacio
“Dear Congressman Holt,
I am a constituent and an eight-year ovarian cancer survivor. I respectfully request that you continue your support of ovarian cancer research …”
This is how I began an email I recently sent to my representative in Washington, DC. In the email I asked him to sign the Fitzpatrick-DeLauro Dear Colleague Letter requesting $20 million for the Ovarian Cancer Research Program, one of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs at the Department of Defense. I sent this email using a system on the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance website. In sending it I added my name to the growing list of survivors who are taking an active role in advocating for research and awareness at the national and state levels.
A View from the Trenches | Eijean Wu, MD, MPP
The line starts forming outside the building around 6:00 a.m. When I walk from the parking lot to the cafeteria to get my morning coffee, I see my patients, crowded under the awning, ready for the monthly ritual of coming to a county cancer clinic. Many of them have bags packed with magazines and snacks. Some are holding sleeping grandchildren. I marvel at how they have adapted their lives to a clunky bureaucracy that doesn’t respect their time.
Full Disclosure | B.J. Rimel, MD
As a junior attending, teaching residents in clinic is one of the most frustrating and joyful experiences of my practice. Balancing the desire to educate with the ever present need to keep wait times down in a busy clinic leads me to sometimes cut off the protracted history-taking that residents inevitably perform, but I feel bad about it every time. The residents rotate onto the gynecologic oncology service for a few weeks at a time every year of their training, and with rare exceptions, our service is the only time that they will interact with gynecologic cancer patients during the residency.
Waiting for a Revolution | Dee Sparacio
Over the past seven years I have met gynecologic cancer survivors at summits, conferences, workshops and at support group meetings. Many have walked alongside me at 5K’s to raise awareness and funds for research. I have even gotten to know survivors who live in the United Kingdom as part of a Facebook group. In most cases, I doubt our paths would have crossed except for the fact that we were all diagnosed with cancer.