In the almost six years I have been writing about radiation oncology for the Society for Radiation Oncology Administrators (SROA), I’ve had the good fortune to interview researchers whose research has changed or will change cancer treatment and patient outcomes. I’ve also had the privilege of talking to administrators and frontline care providers—radiation oncologists, nurses, social workers, etc.—to gather insights to share with SROA’s members about how to enhance care delivery. During that time, immunotherapy has blossomed, proton therapy centers have popped up across the country, survivorship for many cancers has improved, and adaptive planning with MR-guided linacs has become a real thing.
And yet despite these advances, I didn’t have any ray of hope to offer my friend who emailed this week to say her 80-year-old mother had been diagnosed with Stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). I was as positive as possible, of course. The initial diagnosis came on December 4, 2018, her mom’s 80th birthday, at which time the radiation oncologist had classified the tumor as a sarcoma, not NSCLC. The initial diagnosis brought some hope due to better survival rates. Now with the NSCLC diagnosis, it’s a matter of supporting my friend as best I can without sharing any details of my uncle’s brief battle against NSCLC. His battle was painful and rough—he died last October just four months post-diagnosis. Like my friend’s mom he had refused chemo but underwent some radiation treatments. He wasn’t well enough to do the entire course of radiotherapy.
Those who work in radiotherapy are among the nicest, most compassionate people anyone could meet. They have to be, to witness the successes and the joys, as well as the disappointments and sorrows, to show up with a smile day after day and help patients through their treatment. And SROA’s members play a pivotal, yet demanding role in radiation oncology. So, thank you for all that you do to help patients like my friend’s mom and my uncle.
We’ve started this blog as another way to bring value, to share news and insights that can help you in your jobs and in supporting your staff. Announcements and advancements will continue to shape cancer care delivery this year and beyond. For example, what the radiation oncology APM announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) will look like and what its impact will be are yet to be determined. Artificial intelligence and technology advances like biology-guided radiotherapy will change the treatment landscape.
Through this blog, as well as through the newsletter and eNews, I will continue to bring you relevant, timely—and interesting, I hope—articles, information and links to news. We plan to include content on work/life balance, managing and developing staff, patient experience, the challenges of pre-authorizations, and more. The blog will feature posts written by guest contributors. It will be a flexible platform that can evolve according to your interests and needs. Share your thoughts and ideas here. If you have something to share, please contact me.