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For Your Health

Press Release

Imagine being told you have cancer ...... 

In the past, your only choice was to deal with the disease as your doctor&emdash;the white coated, almost omniscient doctor&emdash;prescribed, accepting the judgment with little question.  Since there was little information available for the average patient, you probably would have had no idea if there was a choice in treatment anyway. Today, the scenario is quite different.  There are wide varieties of choices and treatments, and doctors often leave these life-altering decisions up to the patient, as illustrated in a recent article in the New York Times.  These days, patients frequently feel left on their own to make perhaps the most important decision of their life.

Most of us view having more choices and options as a good thing, and we exercise our right to know about our condition and treatment options.  A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that 44% of those who had received some kind of diagnosis sought more information about treatment from places like the Internet, friends, and other doctors.  There is also a plethora of books, support groups, clinics, and alternative treatments out there.  There are even professional patient advocates who will help guide patients through the maze of information and choices.  The information and advice can be dizzyingly overwhelming, and patients often feel that they have nowhere to turn.

Dr. Cole Giller, a neurosurgeon at Baylor University Medical Center and a cancer survivor himself, understands these situations and seeks to help make them easier.  "It takes more than Internet searches and cold facts to make a good medical decision," says Dr. Giller.  "You must also understand your personal beliefs and the specific meanings that each decision has for you."  Based on his 15 years of medical practice helping patients through difficult decisions, Giller wrote Port In The Storm: How to Make a Medical Decision and Live to Tell About It (Lifeline Press, January, 2004). 

Giller says that having access to all the information should be considered a blessing.  In his book, he guides readers through effective strategies for collecting useful information about their conditions and how to avoid all the "quackery" that is out there.  However, making good decisions requires much more than simply knowing the facts. 

"There is no right answer that fits everyone," says Giller. "Finding the right medical decision requires a delicate blend of medical facts with personal understanding. This is achieved by individual effort and not obtainable from the doctor."  For instance, agreeing to back surgery might make sense for a 50 year-old, says Giller, "but might be a nightmare for the 80 year old man who is the sole caretaker of his invalid wife."

In his book, Giller shows readers how to find reliable information from a variety of sources and how to go through the introspection process that is necessary for making good decisions.  The book is a rare resource for patients guiding them through the complex and very personal decision-making process.  The goal is for patients to make decisions for their care based on the best medical data available as well as a thorough inventory of their own values, beliefs, and life circumstances; ultimately finding the "right" answer for them.

 For a review copy of the book or to set up an interview with Dr. Cole Giller for a story, please contact Jay Wilke at 727-443-7115, ext. 223 or at jayw@event-management.com.


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