Monday, July 20, 2009

Dave did good. We are all happy.

My friend Dave deBronkart, aka e-Patient Dave, called me early in 2007 to let me know that he had been diagnosed with late-stage renal cancer and that he could be expected to die within just a couple of months. I told him that this was unacceptable, in that we were scheduled to have our 35th college reunion that June, and that he needed to be there. Well, things turned out quite well. He not only showed up at the reunion, but at many other important events.

Here's a note sent today from Dave to his BIDMC doctors and NPs (David McDermott, Andrew Wagner, Mee Young Lee, Gretchen Chambers, and Megan Anderson), reprinted with his permission:

This week marks two years since my last bit of treatment from any of you. I continue to be well, sleeping well and loving life. I'm so well that, as some of you know, my weight has returned to "entirely too normal." :-) But I'm countering that: for the first time since high school I've become a regular bike rider. (Not getting up at 5 a.m. to do it, like SOME executives, but you gotta start somewhere.)

I tell people about you everywhere I go, which these days includes conferences and policy meetings. I've begun (unskillfully) doing recorded interviews with Dr. McD and Dr. Wagner to make the world aware of what you offer that's not available everywhere; I hope to do more, when you docs say there's more news to share. (Next time around I'll let YOU talk more...)

Ginny and I are having a fabulous summer, making the most of life. Yesterday we decided that next summer we'll celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary with a trip to Switzerland and Germany, where she went many years ago. Gonna get us some Alps! And on May 31 I got to walk my daughter down the aisle, and next weekend is Mom's 80th birthday party. Needless to say, it is a JOY to be present for these events.

Thanks for making all this possible. You're wonderful. (Pass the word to anyone else who worked on my case - too numerous to recall. And all of Stoneman 7.)



Anonymous said...

God Bless Dave. He is an example of all that is GOOD about American medicine, and he is giving back to the utmost by using his skills to drive quality improvements in health IT and other areas. You go, Dave; you will always have a fan here down south.


Trisha Torrey said...

My thanks to you, Dave's doctors, too. Because you all did so well by Dave, and without realizing it, you have, in effect, saved even more lives than Dave's.

Dave deBronkart has made it his mission to help others participate in their own medical processes and treatments, too. More will survive and thrive as Dave has, because you, his doctors, helped him participate in his own care.

Thank you on behalf of all of us who benefit from what Dave has learned, and the wisdom he shares.

Trisha Torrey
Every Patient's Advocate

e-Patient Dave said...

*I* did good??

Well, okay, I did good. But as much as I believe in participatory medicine, I do think there were a few experts in your shop who "did good" on my behalf.

More than once while I was in for my treatments I was in perilous condition. They stopped the treatments, held off for a day when necessary, resumed when safe. At one point my BP was down to 50/30, which is not uncommon with this treatment. But I made it through, and here we are.

And that's not to mention the incredibly sticky surgery I had at Dr. Wagner's hands, and the bone surgery for my rotted femur by Dr. Anderson. How she was able to scoop out every single bit of cancer cells from that bone is beyond me, especially after it broke, which must have caused some stuff to spill.

Yet here we are.

This is no ordinary treatment program. As I noted in my recent post about Dr. McDermott, this is one of the ultra-modern "solution shops" discussed by business guru Clayton Christensen, in which teams of experts (not just individual experts) pool their thoughts, instead of passing the ball to each other. I am, as we say in Boston, wicked grateful for their expertise. I know I was at the brink.

So yeah, I was happy to help with a video promo for the BID web site. As I said, how do you put a value on being pulled back from the brink of death?

I can say, "Paaaarrteeeee!"

Bongi said...


Christine Kraft said...

This is a wonderful tribute on so many levels, Paul. Thank you for sharing.

Dave's letter and your response bears witness to the fact that while anything is possible when facing cancer, nothing is for certain. When things go well, a special bond forms between the healed and the healers.

Congratulations to Dave deBronkhart, whom I've known only since early 2009. May his gift of health continue to ripple along in a stream of intelligent service to all of us. Dave is one of the most important voices in patient advocacy today, not simply because he survives but because he pushes to synthesize so much in his work.

While I have never met Drs. Wagner, Lee, Chambers, and Anderson, I am not surprised that Dave McDermott, MD played a significant role in e-PatientDave's case.

Dr. McDermott's willingness to position patient experiences at the center of a new media breast cancer support project we collaborated on in '98 was truly ahead of his time.

Congratulations to all, including BIDMC.

Medical Quack said...

Very nice and with Dave sharing, it gives inspiration to others to fight cancer, and put their faith in the great physicians we have out there today!

Cheryl Ragsdale said...

Hi Dave,
Thanks for sharing this post with us via facebook otherwise I wouldn't have seen it. Nice to still have you on the planet to knock around with. I love that you're still here to annoy me with your incessant humming. LOL!
Cheryl Ragsdale