Raising Awareness, Raising Consciousness
A discussion of breast cancer treatments and palliative care with medical oncologist Dr. Jennifer Shin
October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month – although it’s never a bad time to raise our consciousness about the most prevalent diseases; their prevention as well as treatment. Almost everyone will be touched at some point by a breast cancer diagnosis – either personally, or through a loved one.
My listeners may not know that I recently experienced my own cancer scare with metastatic melanoma of the nodular kind – a serious condition that is often deadly. In my case, however, it was a wonderful experience because I had to deal with the fact that I may be what we call “dying.” I’m pleased to say that I rose to the challenge by reminding myself that there really is only now – there is no future and there is no past. I am now cancer-free, but the experience reminded me that we are all living on borrowed time.
Awareness is a crucial component of raising consciousness, and sometimes it takes a serious wake-up call to motivate a positive change of mind. I recently spoke with Dr. Jennifer Shin, a medical oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, specializing in the care of patients with breast cancer. Dr. Shin has just co-authored Living with Breast Cancer: The Step-by-Step Guide to Minimizing Side Effects and Maximizing Quality of Life, which provides a great service for anyone looking to raise their consciousness around this topic, or any potentially terminal diagnosis.
On a related note, I am currently embarking on a new series featuring healing stories from those who have benefitted from psychedelics at the end of life, or in the face of a terminal diagnosis. I hope to interview those with direct personal experience, as well as relatives, friends, and clinicians with stories to share. Please email my producer if you would like to be interviewed on my program, and featured in a future book on this topic.
If you would rather watch the video or read the interview transcript with Dr. Shin, I hope you will consider becoming a subscriber and member of the tribe. Your support makes interviews like these possible.
Wishing you Golden Light,
Dr. Richard Louis Miller
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Living with Breast Cancer: The Step-by-Step Guide to Minimizing Side Effects and Maximizing Quality of Life by Dr. Jennifer Shin, et al.
Dr. Richard Louis Miller: Welcome to Mind Body Health & Politics. I'm your host, Dr. Richard Louis Miller. The mission of Mind Body Health & Politics is to enhance physical and mental wellbeing, and encourage community. And by encourage community, what I mean is that I believe that human beings are friendly tribal animals. When we associate with one another in small enough groups, where we know each other by name or at least by face, we're generally quite cooperative and collaborative. We like hanging out together and doing things together. But at the very same time, it's important for us to know that a very small percentage of us, less than 5%, are avaricious, greedy, dangerous predators. And we must be mindful of those people so that we do not let them rule us which is what they would very much like to do. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
Our guest today on Mind Body Health & Politics is the esteemed physician, Jennifer Shin. She's a medical oncologist specializing in breast cancer and palliative care specialty at Massachusetts General Hospital, which many of us have heard of because it's world famous. Welcome to Mind Body Health & Politics, Jennifer.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Dr. Jennifer A. Shin: Thank you so much, Richard. I'm really, really delighted to be here today.
Dr. Richard Louis Miller: Well, I'm very glad to have you today and on this topic, because it is, as I understand it, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, isn't it?
Dr. Jennifer A. Shin: That's right. Yeah, every October.
My introduction to cancer through metastatic melanoma
Dr. Richard Louis Miller: Cancer has particular meaning to me for several reasons. One reason is that I've had the privilege of treating women in my psychotherapy practice, who are cancer survivors, who have had breast cancer. I've gone through in one or two cases, five years with them until they were at that five-year stage, which you will tell us about during the program today, that that's a marker, the five-year point.
But the other reason that it's of interest to me is that this year, I had an experience and I am now a cancer survivor. I had a situation, where I had what looked like a mole on my temple. My dermatologist treated it with liquid nitrogen to remove it. After a year of this treatment, I said, "It's not going away. I think you better cut it out and send it in for biopsy." He sent it in for biopsy and a week later, he handed me a letter and it said I had metastatic melanoma of the nodular kind. I immediately went home and looked it up, of course, on Google, and my wife and I are looking at it, and we see that nodular metastatic melanoma is capable of killing you within six weeks. I'm saying, "Oh, my gosh, I've already had this for a year. It's quite something."
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