Dancing with My Cancer Demon: All the Way to a NIH/NCI Immunotherapy Clinical Trial
Paperback, 364 Pages
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This is not your typical death and dying, search for the meaning of life, cancer story. More like a dance lesson. I'm a family doc who flipped to Stage-4 cancer overnight. Making my way with this terrible problem, I've managed to survive a year, learning a lot in the process. This is my journal, with commentary from friends, written as events unfolded. I offer it for others to find insights and make their dance a little easier. Subjects explored: CANCER: the emotional roller coaster, managing well-wishers, keeping everyone up to date, sorting treatment options and clinical trials. HEALTH CARE: find good doctors, manage your medical record, rebut insurance denials, and find an advocate to assist. DOCTORING: my rural practice stories explore what it takes to become a wise physician, by learning from patients. SURVIVING: Resilience, faith, personal choice, palliative care, and advanced directives. LIVING: Reconnecting and having some fun. Making the best of the... More > time we have left.< Less
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Dec 29, 2016I’m so glad Clark wrote this book. After he left for college, my interactions with my brother were brief and infrequent. That was my loss. Clark has led a life which he can look back on and be very proud of, and I am very proud to be his sister. He is one who cares, teaches and leads by example. This was shown to me clearly when our mother was in the hospital, in a coma. He made sure to go to each of us, individually, to be sure our wishes were being heard about what we were deciding as siblings. He told me a story that illustrated how people in a group who “go along” with the group to make peace often arrive at a place that none of them wanted, but no one had openly expressed. I appreciated his willingness to step in to be sure that each of us was comfortable in the path we were taking on our mother’s behalf. We truly were able to come to a combined agreement, knowing that what she desired was fulfilled, and we were unified in the decision. Clark was the one to step forward and help... More > each of us. He has helped so many through his work and life. Now his book is another way to help others. There are so many things to laugh about, to think about, to ponder, and to learn. It’s an enjoyable read and I’m so happy he was able to write it. It’s really worth it to buy the book and enjoy it.< Less
Dec 14, 2016Although the author is writing about his struggle with cancer, the book isn't just about cancer, and that is its strength. It was a history of his medical practice and achievements; it is also a memoir in the best sense of the word, where the author's voice emerges clearly, charming the reader with humility and humor. It was also a book describing the insights about medicine that he gained over the years. To top it off, the quality of the writing is excellent. The author offers his own assessment on page 80 where he says of his writing: "Pretty good at humor, turning a phrase, and kicking ideas around." That's an accurate thumbnail sketch of the content of this book! Because the book is based on a journal the author wrote every week, he includes comments from some of the people who followed him on this journey into the valley of the shadow of death. They were clearly inspired by his tenacity, humility and relentless sense of humor no matter what setbacks occurred. Readers of... More > this book are likely to feel the same sense of inspiration, and will certainly appreciate the opportunity to join Dr. Hanmer on his extraordinary journey.< Less
Dec 11, 2016Although Dr. Clark Hanmer's book is at its core the story of one person staring at death and not blinking, the story is universal. Dr. Hanmer chronicles the journey from an experienced and successful physician at the peak of his professional career to an individual coping with the sudden diagnosis of terminal cancer. The physician's white coat is ripped off. The man stands alone and naked, as we all eventually must. The struggle is all too real. Yet his voice is authentic and steady. There is no wallowing in self pity. Asking readers to accompany him on this new and perilous journey, he competes well in the race of his life. He endures. One of the many highlights of the book is the patient vignettes that Dr. Hanmer sprinkles throughout its pages. Always entertaining and fascinating, these 'doctor stories' reveal his fundamental goodness and humanity. Moreover, these stories allow a unique glimpse into the sacrosanct patient-physician relationship. As a fellow family physician and... More > friend of the author, I can attest to Dr. Hanmer's veracity. The stories ring true. Dr. Hanmer also relates various anecdotes in both his personal and professional life that have shaped him, probably best embodied by the annual pilgrimage to idyllic Chautauqua, New York, for both family bonding and a cultural immersion experience. From these stories the portrait of Dr. Hanmer that emerges is one of an intelligent, engaging, and inquistive individual with wide ranging interests who relishes life, enjoys challenges, and seeks innovative solutions to difficult problems. In his clash with cancer these character traits serve him well. For physicians, medical students, and any individuals facing a terminal diagnosis or simply pondering their humanity and death and dying, this book is definitely worth reading. Without preaching or being didactic, Dr. Hanmer offers invaluable lessons in his calm response to a life threatening challenge and provides a roadmap to guide us on our own individual journey. In the shadow of death he exemplifies dignity and true courage. Read the book. You will not be disappointed. 5 Stars< Less
Dec 9, 2016Hanmer’s project started with weekly posts on CaringBridge, a site that allows people or families with serious medical problems to update their loved ones and receive support in return, but soon morphed into a book defying genre labels. It’s a memoir of a unique journey from doctor to patient, through treatment toward acceptance and perhaps recovery while dancing with a demon he can’t fight or exorcise because it’s part of him. It’s the story of his life’s adventures and his family’s. It’s the account of finding and taking part in an NIH clinical trial and later appearing via video at its Ethics Grand Rounds to argue for a change in trial protocol. It’s a detailed guide to cholangiocarcinoma. It’s an advice manual for medical students and family doctors, especially rural ones; for those faced with scary medical diagnoses or medical researchers or specialists; for writers hoping to publish a book or patients looking to choose doctors and get the most out of their doctor-patient... More > relationships. It’s chock-full of captivating case studies—including his own son’s—that will remind you of Marcus Welby, M.D.(One of his CaringBridge readers accurately described him as Dr.Welby with a computer.) But it’s more than that. It’s a compendium of general knowledge and a jolly good read for those interested in first-rate books; the ins-and-outs of clinical trials; electric cars; the Myers-Briggs Personality Test(he's an INTJ); insurance and Medicare failings; barbershop quartets; diabetes camp; Chatauqua; mental health issues; curing the common cold in hours, not weeks; our present political climate. . . I could go on and on. The writer claims it’s “resilience” that allows us to face our “demons,” medical or otherwise, and if that is a teachable trait, this book is for all of us. He writes, “I hope that my reflections help you to dance with your demon a little more gracefully," whether it's "a psychological block from childhood, a physical limitation, or a chronic disease or cancer.” As far as I can tell, that includes us all, or it eventually will. That’s what makes the book universal. Although Hanmer closes his practice early in the book, near the end of it, he passes his Board Recertification Exams so he can, in theory, at least, practice for the next ten years. He sends readers away with the words “to be continued.” This is a book about living life to the fullest while accepting the nearness of death, and it leaves us with hope for him and for ourselves.< Less
Dec 5, 2016This is a memoir written by a wise and experienced family doctor who is going through an unexpected journey of coping with a devastating cancer diagnosis. It is a collection of (chronologically presented) blog posts that have been woven together into an engaging narrative. Dr. Hanmer is a natural writer, effortlessly putting into words his challenging journey in a way that anyone can appreciate—with a sense of humor and wisdom that makes you wish that he were your family doctor. (Having recently moved to a new town, I know how tough it is to find a good doctor, and I couldn't help thinking how lucky his patients were to have him.) I think people with a variety of backgrounds could benefit from and enjoy reading this book: Medical students and others in training—it is wonderful to see a REAL doctor in action, someone who truly found his calling as a healer. Anyone facing a difficult diagnosis, and their families. Battling cancer involves negotiating a complex maze of decision points,... More > and Dr. Hanmer’s narrative will be very useful to anyone in a similar situation. Cancer researchers could benefit from reading Dr. Hanmer’s insights into how a patient thinks about the decision to enroll in a research study. I would also recommend this book to anyone who is interested in finding out what makes one’s life a rich one: curiosity, creativity, commitment to making things better and most of all rich relationships. Highly recommended.< Less
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- Clark B. Hanmer, MD (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)
- First Standard Color Edition
- Clark B. Hanmer, MD
- November 14, 2016
- Perfect-bound Paperback
- Interior Ink
- Full color
- 0.53 lbs.
- Dimensions (inches)
- 6 wide x 9 tall
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