Shadowing downstairs in the infectious disease clinic, I got to sit in on a couple of HIV consultations. A Doctor I shadow introduced me as an intern from IU Dance Marathon, and then he asked the young boy (HIV patient) if he had ever heard of Ryan White. Both the boy and his mother said that they had never heard of him before. Dr. Manaloor gave him a quick run down of his story and then moved on to talk about their current condition. He was a totally healthy young boy with no set backs or unusual challenges other than the fact that he had to take a hefty amount of pills each day.
So many HIV patients walk in and out of that clinic to receive really amazing care for about an hour or so, and then get to continue on with their normal lives until their next check up rolls around a few months later.
Though it’s sad that Ryan isn’t necessarily getting the ongoing recognition he deserves, it is an amazing thing that these kids don’t understand his story because it is a foreign concept to them that that much struggle used to be associated with the exact same disease that they’re facing. It blows my mind to think that I get to be on the executive board for the organization that literally makes it financially possible for the infectious disease department to be as incredible as it is and for that much progress to have been made since Ryan’s time. Pretty amazing.
On a different note, in the past 24 hours I’ve heard about two heartbreaking stories of cancer patients who were showing so much progress after countless tiresome days fighting their way back to a normal, healthy life, then out of no where had to start back at square one after being given the news that their cancer had come back.
One little girl was given that news yesterday, and a really nice resident who had been working with her told me that it has averted her from wanting to work in the hematology/oncology unit (where she always thought she wanted to end up) because it was just too sad for her to handle. I learned that so many of the cancer patients’ treatment plans are based off of previously used plans that were successful for other patients (makes sense, right?), but the scary reality is that the combination of chemotherapy drugs are so harsh and are able to have such drastically different effects on each unique patient.
We’re still in the day and age where doctors are prescribing treatment plans to these patients without 100% knowing what the outcome is going to be, which is why so so so much more research is still needed in order to be able to bring treatment options to the patient’s bedside that have none of these awful risks associated with them.
IUDM is at such an amazing turning point. Infectious disease is pretty smooth-sailing right now because of the support they’ve been receiving & will continue to receive for a long long time (s/o endowments). But the same can’t be said for every part of the hospital. The list of departments that are going to start receiving our support during these next five years, oncology included, are more likely than not going to be able to start making some ground-breaking discoveries that wouldn’t be able to have been done otherwise. Just think about all of those miracles waiting to happen. 🙂
All my love & FTKiddos,
Annie Coyle – 2015 IUDM Director of Stewardship