Why I think about Will Rogers every day…

American humorist Will Rogers once stated that in the 1930s, “When the Okies left Oklahoma and moved to California, they raised the average intelligence level in both states.” This quote, though obviously swathed with wit and sarcasm, has surprising applicability to several real world scenarios. The Will Rogers Phenomenon is used to explain what happens … Continue reading Why I think about Will Rogers every day…

Is it too late to say I’m sorry now?

“I’m sorry.” Consider the magnitude of impact these two simple words can have. Apologies, when uttered from a place of sincerity, are remarkably meaningful. They are capable of erasing negativity, clarifying misconceptions, and easing hurt feelings. They also convey understanding, solidarity, and compassion. When we are sincerely sorry, we are also truly humbled. For medical … Continue reading Is it too late to say I’m sorry now?

When veterinarians care too much…

Compassion fatigue is known by many alternative terms: vicarious traumatization, secondary traumatic stress, secondary stress, and even second-hand shock. Most often, we associate compassion fatigue with the emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events. Every person working in a “helping profession” is at risk for … Continue reading When veterinarians care too much…

All about Prognostic Factors

Prognostic factors are characteristics possessed by a patient, its tumor, or both. They predict the likely course of the cancer, and ultimately, your pet's prognosis, or final outcome. Prognostic factors could help estimate a patient’s survival time, chance of success with a particular treatment plan, or risk for recurrence of disease following surgery, radiation, or … Continue reading All about Prognostic Factors

The good thing about science is…

While recently searching for information on the role of evidence-based information in medical decision-making, I came across the following quote by Neil DeGrasse Tyson: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” My initial impression of the statement was one of complete agreement. I approach both my … Continue reading The good thing about science is…

When cancer hurts, but only part of the time…

People readily associate a diagnosis of cancer with severe adverse clinical signs. I’m not speaking of the effects of chemotherapy or radiation; rather I’m referring to the decline in a patient’s quality of life occurring secondary to progression of disease. Regardless of whether the patient is a human or an animal, we’re equally capable of … Continue reading When cancer hurts, but only part of the time…

You never forget your first…

His name was Ali, as in Mohammed Ali. He was a handsome 1½-year-old tan and white Boxer with a sweet and playful disposition and a ton of energy crammed into the tiny makeshift exam room. Though Ali was only one of dozens of dogs evaluated at the Southside Healthy Pet clinic that evening, I’d forever … Continue reading You never forget your first…

I can’t take all the credit…

Have you ever heard of laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgery? Here's a great article written by my husband, Dr. Marc Hirshenson, on this interesting topic! http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/surgery-stat-finer-points-laparoscopic-liver-biopsies

It won’t hurt to try? Or will it?

There are many gray areas in veterinary cancer care. Rarely am I certain that a particular treatment option or surgical strategy or chemotherapy protocol is “the absolute best” plan of action for any given patient. My uncertainty stems not from a lack of knowledge or experience; it arises from a dearth of evidence based information … Continue reading It won’t hurt to try? Or will it?

My vet did all these tests and we still don’t know anything…

Diagnostic tests are essential to my daily activities as a veterinary oncologist. For example: I require a complete blood count (CBC) test before every chemotherapy treatment. I analyze results from fine needle aspirates and biopsies in order to formulate therapeutic plans. I use radiographs (x-rays) to look for metastasis (spread) of cancer to internal organs. … Continue reading My vet did all these tests and we still don’t know anything…

What’s your resolution for 2016?

There are many exciting aspects to the onset of a new year. It’s a time for regrouping, reconnecting, and re-establishing yourself. This is the time to take stock of personal accomplishments, pitfalls, and decide upon areas for improvement. Although it’s a tad arbitrary to select the transition from December 31st to January 1st as “the … Continue reading What’s your resolution for 2016?

When both the owner and their pet have cancer…

A surprisingly large number of owners of the pets I see with cancer are cancer survivors themselves. Aside from how unusual I find it when people are willing to share their personal medical histories with me, I usually also feel a particular pang of sadness for their situation. My expertise lies in diagnosing and treating … Continue reading When both the owner and their pet have cancer…

A letter to myself as a first year resident in medical oncology

Dear me (you), I’m writing to you from the future—approximately ten years from where you are now. You’re a few months into your medical oncology residency, just beginning to assimilate to the flow of your daily responsibilities as a doctor committed to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. You hate living in upstate New York, … Continue reading A letter to myself as a first year resident in medical oncology

What happens when you care too much?

There is a quote from a prominent veterinary oncology text taped above the computer monitor in my office stating: "True oncological emergencies are rare. Emergencies of emotion, however, are quite common." I realize this expression may not resonate well with an owner of a pet with cancer and could even be misconstrued in an offensive … Continue reading What happens when you care too much?

Why I’m sometimes tardy for the party…

I am a person who thrives on organization. The clothes in my closet are not only color coordinated, but are subdivided into categories such as sleeve length, textile pattern, and type of fabric. I’m one of the few standouts who prefer using day planners comprised of paper rather than electronic versions. I derive a deranged … Continue reading Why I’m sometimes tardy for the party…