Pause and take a deep breath

For many the initial reaction of hearing “It’s cancer” is shock followed by “I need to get this out.” Michael Sabel, M.D., chief of surgical oncology at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, shares why it’s OK to take a deep breath, and consider all your options before starting treatment.



Take the next step:

  • Read one patient’s decision on pausing before deciding on her course of treatment
  • Find out why it’s OK to seek a second opinion


The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan according to U.S. News & World Report. Our multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.

The sixth vital sign: Patient distress

Detecting distress is the first step to helping patients recover.distress June15

When going to see a health care provider for an office visit, we expect to be asked about our physical health and have a physical exam that measures our vital signs. Emotional health, sometimes called the sixth vital sign, is harder to figure out. In fact, emotional or psychosocial problems can persist for years without a provider being aware that their patient is in distress.

This has changed for cancer patients, many of whom do experience high levels of distress. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network describes distress as “an unpleasant emotional experience of a psychosocial, social, and/or spiritual nature that may interfere with the ability to cope effectively with cancer, its physical symptoms, and its treatment.” So what is being done to address this? Continue reading

Testicular cancer: Early detection is key

As I was writing something recently on clinical updates, I came across one type of cancer that is not CAL_testicularcancer2015brought up very often, testicular cancer. I remembered the story a friend of mine shared about her husband, age 30-ish that had been complaining of pain in his testicular region ever since his young daughter jumped on him…OUCH!!

He went for a checkup and sure enough, he had testicular cancer. He underwent surgery, and did not need chemotherapy or other treatment as his cancer was contained in one testicle. This was many, many years ago, and he continues to enjoy his life and functions just fine without any complaints from his wife. We are in our 50s now, thank goodness that he went to get checked out. Continue reading

Budgeting 101: Healthy eating that is easy on the pocketbook

Summer officially starts this week. The warmer temperatures and rain continue to keep things green:SummerVeg15 lush grass, leaves on trees and flowers. Green can also represent money but you don’t need to break your budget to eat healthy. It doesn’t take any extra time to shop wisely or change your staple foods but these very easy strategies can reduce your shopping budget. And with a few minutes of extra planning, you can further reduce your grocery bill.

The following budgeting tips and strategies are divided into categories by the amount of time that each will entail, from no time at all to up to 10 minutes a week. That way, you focus on the changes your schedule will allow.

Minimal time and effort:

Shop satisfied: In other words, shop after a meal and avoid impulse buying due to hunger. Shopping when satisfied allows you to buy only what you need, which will limit your total grocery bill each and every time.

Shop by season: Buying fruit and vegetables that are in season can lead to considerable savings. Check out for a summer season list. If you want to make a dish with off season fruits or vegetables, canned fruit or frozen vegetables likely would be more budget friendly. Continue reading

For men: Communicating with doctors

communicating with doctorsIt’s a well-known fact that men and women communicate differently, and this carries over into all relationships, including ones with health care providers. A diagnosis of cancer can be overwhelming, and there can be a great deal of information to process. Some men may have more difficulty in communicating with doctors for the following reasons:

  • More discomfort in discussing health related problems
  • Stress can cause men to withdraw and become quiet
  • Men don’t like to be told what to do
  • Don’t want to waste people’s time by asking questions

Patients are taking a more active role in their health care. We know that outcomes are better when patients are working along with their doctor in making decisions that are best for them. The following are some tips that can be helpful in improving communication: Continue reading

PM&R and cancer symptom management

Interview with Sean Smith, M.D., Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

stylized xraymCancerPartner sat down recently with Sean R. Smith, M.D., a clinical instructor and director of Cancer Rehabilitation in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Health System, to learn more about doctors who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and the growing sub-specialty of cancer symptom management and rehabilitation.

mCancerPartner: How would you define physical medicine and rehabilitation, or PM&R, as it relates to cancer symptom management?

Dr. Smith: PM&R doctors, called physiatrists, ARE symptom management doctors, but they also diagnose and treat a variety of physical conditions. Our expertise is used for patients with conditions that affect the brain, spine, muscle and bones. We also help patients with nerve damage or serious scar tissue. So you might find physiatrists in sports medicine, but you will also find us treating conditions like cerebral palsy, spinal cord or burn injuries. For all our patients, we look at nutrition, pain management and range of motion, and may order tests or treatments to optimize patients’ ability to move and reduce pain or fatigue. Our goal is to Continue reading