(Dr. Pan is a radiology oncologist with the University of Michigan Hospital. )
Dear Dr. Pan,
My husband is Tom Pulsipher, patient # 0388x xxx. We met with you two weeks ago, on November 18th, about Tom's esophageal cancer. Since then, he's had a spine biopsy, but has not yet been scheduled for a colonoscopy.
Tom has been seeking help for his illness since June. It's been a long, difficult road of sickness, countless appointments with doctors near and far, plus tests and more tests. It wasn't until we arrived at U of M Hospital a month ago that he felt he was finally getting help. The staff at U of M has done more for him in the past four weeks than all the previous doctors in the 5 months prior. We are grateful.
Although we already knew about Tom's cancer spreading to both his spine and lymph nodes, it was tough to learn about the possible colon cancer. But Tom still feels the same way he did before - he wants to fight his cancer as best he can. He was terribly disappointed and upset to learn that he was only being offered palliative care.
From the beginning, he's been an atypical patient. He doesn't smoke or drink, and he didn't feel any signs of discomfort until late this Spring. He tried so hard to get help, but the diagnosis was missed until October, all the while he was physically suffering from his not-yet-recognized advancing cancer.
He doesn't want give up. He doesn't see that as an option. He's ready to fight, realizing that the treatment will be tough.
He knows that his chances aren't good, but he's prepared to give it his best shot. This past month he's worked hard to keep his weight up as best he can, and has been carefully tracking his calories. Every day he shoves 2500 - 3000 calories into an esophagus and stomach which don't want to cooperate. It's very uncomfortable for him, but he does it because he wants to be in as good a shape as possible.
He feels strong most days, and tries hard to keep a normal schedule. He only wants a fighting chance. Yesterday, he asked me, "What if I was one of those few people who are part of that tiny percentage of survivors? How will I know if no one will give me the chance?" We are people of faith, and we recognize that miracles can happen.
Please - don't give up on him. Give him at least a fighting chance against this mean disease. He's been so patient these past six months, waiting for help. He just needs the opportunity to fight his cancer.
Please, Dr. Pan - Do Something! He desperately needs you to help him.
his loving wife,