Dr. Daniel DeAngelo and nurse practitioner Ilene Galinsky discuss their work treating patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Daniel DeAngelo [DD]: The impact of a cancer diagnosis on the patient and the family is obviously devastating, and one of the things that I think is important that you and I bring to the table is trying to bring the normalcy — trying to bring the patient and the family back to a grounded approach — “This is something we can treat,” reiterating that concept that we’re in this together. I’m there for them, you — I know I’ve seen you work over the last two-and-a-half decades — that you’re there for them. We went to two weddings this past year for our patients’ families and two births — and to see that next generation evolve that came out of therapy – that years ago would never have happened. It’s incredibly rewarding, more than I could ever have imagined in a career.
Ilene Galinsky [IG]: It’s nice when patients meet milestones. We’re all together to have a cake or to congratulate someone they’re done with their lumbar punctures. To be a part of the family — it’s just not our patients, it affects all of us, and we take every bump in their road personally.
DD: There’s clearly a science — “These are the drugs you need to give, and these are the things you need to do,” but so much of our visit is just holding somebody’s hand and listening to them.
DD: I don’t have to say anything. They can tell me about a job that they got — or didn’t get – just to sit and talk. And I find that equally rewarding and as medicine changes, still to have the old-fashioned humanistic approach.
IG: Some of my visits are not even medical. I’m just talking to them about everyday life stuff, or they tell me how stressful things are with their spouses. To know that just a call saying, “I’m checking in” — how important that is to a patient, and their families, and I’ve always made a promise that I would never not give 150 percent to my patients and working with you and our group, that’s our mindset.
DD: I watch how devoted you are to our patients; I watch it with admiration, and I watch the way you care for patients, and you help me be a better doctor.
IG: Thank you. I always felt I could be good with people, and I am grateful that I’ve had that opportunity. I’ve become a better person, and I think we’ve, as a team, just learning from each other, we’ve all grown. It’s been very rewarding for me as a person.
DD: We go to work each day with the excitement, “I can’t wait to get to work and to see to my patients. To see our patients. And to do the best that we can.” We fight the fight and we move ahead, each day at a time.