The Cancer Experience-The Doctor, the Patient, the Journey By Roy B. Sessions, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Lanham, Maryland, 2012, 205 pp, $56.98

  • Published on

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)


<ul><li><p>BOOK REVIEW Karen T. Pitman, MD, Section Editor</p><p>THE CANCER EXPERIENCETHE DOCTOR, THE PATIENT, THE JOURNEY</p><p>By Roy B. Sessions, Rowman &amp; Littlefield Publishers, Inc.,Lanham, Maryland, 2012, 205 pp, $56.98</p><p>The author, Roy Sessions, MD, is a nationally respected head</p><p>and neck surgical oncologist who describes himself as writing</p><p>this book in the autumn of my life. The reader may be</p><p>tempted to be wary, believing this to be yet another book writ-</p><p>ten by someone overwhelmed with nostalgia about the past. But</p><p>it rapidly becomes apparent that this short book of only 184</p><p>pages is, indeed, not a quick read that can be finished in a short</p><p>period of time. Rather, I found myself contemplating and</p><p>reflecting repeatedly while reading this treatise. It is a thought-</p><p>provoking work that demands that the reader periodically make</p><p>self-conclusions about their reaction to some of the authors</p><p>comments.</p><p>The book represents a compilation of what has been learned</p><p>over many years about the social dynamics of being a physician</p><p>caring for patients with cancer. What is contained is more a</p><p>function of the authors wisdom gained from interacting with</p><p>this group of patients over an extended period of time. It is</p><p>based more on this experientially gained wisdom rather than</p><p>knowledge. It is not something derived from an aging physician</p><p>longing for the departed past of how medicine was formerly</p><p>practiced, but rather, it is a book to demonstrate those intangible</p><p>qualities that differentiate an effective cancer physician from a</p><p>mechanistic technophile who provides self-protection from the</p><p>emotional complexities innate to all patients with cancer by just</p><p>dealing with the physiologic consequences of the disease and</p><p>not the person afflicted with the disease.</p><p>The important role for this book is for the reader to recognize</p><p>that it helps to define the needs of patients with cancer and how</p><p>these needs can be met by an effective oncologist who recog-</p><p>nizes and respects the importance of that special emotional sup-</p><p>port provided by a physicianpatient relationship that is based</p><p>on compassion, honesty, and adherence to high moral and ethi-</p><p>cal standards. This book is, indeed, valuable for oncologists and</p><p>nononcologists, students in the healthcare professions, and the</p><p>lay public because it defines the essential ingredients that will</p><p>need to be preserved and even enhanced as healthcare organiza-</p><p>tions embark on developing and evaluating new care models</p><p>that are cost-effective, accessible, and high-quality experiences</p><p>for patients.</p><p>I wholeheartedly recommend this book to practitioners, stu-</p><p>dents, and the lay public. While it is a short book, it certainly</p><p>cannot be read and appreciated in a short period of time.</p><p>Although all chapters are well written, it is clear from chapter</p><p>10 (titled Death and Dying: Natural and Otherwise) that the</p><p>author has a keen interest in the subject of death and dying. If I</p><p>have any criticism, and it is a small one, my sense is that the</p><p>length and depth of this chapter is out of proportion to the</p><p>others and is probably reflective of the authors level of interest</p><p>in this topic rather than what might be more consistent with the</p><p>rest of the book.</p><p>In the interest of full disclosure, those reading this review</p><p>should understand that I am a long-time friend of the author</p><p>who became acquainted through our mutual interests in head</p><p>and neck oncology. We have discussed many of the topics in</p><p>this book while fishing for trout on numerous Western streams</p><p>and rivers over the years. I have not ever discussed this book</p><p>with the author and certainly not this review. Over the years, I</p><p>have felt that such a book would be something that I might</p><p>write. That will no longer be necessary, as Dr. Sessions has</p><p>made a real contribution with this book that brings value to</p><p>those in the healthcare professions or lay readers. I wholeheart-</p><p>edly recommend The Cancer Experience, especially for thosehealthcare professionals contemplating pursuing a career that</p><p>involves interacting with patients with cancer.</p><p>DAVID E. SCHULLER, MD</p><p>Columbus, Ohio</p><p>Head &amp; Neck 36: 309, 2014Published online 29 November 2013 in Wiley Online Library ( 10.1002/hed.23559VC 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.</p><p>HEAD &amp; NECKDOI 10.1002/HED FEBRUARY 2014 309</p></li></ul>