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Investigator (24)

A recent NZ Herald story about a young woman with recurrent nasopharyngeal cancer aroused our interest in the immunotherapy drugs Keytruda and Opdivo, approved in NZ but not funded for HNC. 

Eve McGauley was only 15 when she contracted the disease. She went through the awful…

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I’m in favour of patient attendance at the multidisciplinary meeting. The first time I attended one in October 2009, I felt quite humbled by the experience and got a secret thrill out of being the centre of attention. Wow, so many medical people looking at me and wanting to make me better.

Last time, though, in 2014, it was a more daunting experience. I had a recurrence and the meeting room seemed to have been turned into a theatre with me alone on the stage. I still think it was of…

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We’re trying to act on the lessons we learnt from the e-Patient Dave workshop and lecture. I'm looking at my last major encounter with the health system through the lens of his philosophy.

Remember the Dave…

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This is a story about the Digital Health Workshop held at North Shore Hospital on 30 October. Six of us attended as well as a number of health care workers. Dave deBronkart who is famous in health circles as a strong advocate for a new health care paradigm, is speaking at a number of events in Auckland and elsewhere. 

The photo is of Dave, Diana, myself and a Waitemata DHB doctor.…

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Honestly, the first time I saw the radiation mask I was horrified. It was a ghoulish, white ghostly thing. It was like a villain’s mask from a thriller. But I wasn’t thwarted either. I knew that radiation could kill the invisible cancer cells left behind after surgery and after two recurrences I was pleased to have a chance to keep the cancer at bay.…

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Xylitol - what's the buzz?

Xylitol is a "tooth-friendly", nonfermentable sugar alcohol. It is naturally found in low concentrations in the fibres of many fruits and vegetables and can be extracted from various berries, oats, and mushrooms. Industrial production starts from xylan extracted from hardwoods or corncobs, which is hydrolyzed into…

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I am very impressed by the recent Make Sense Campaign run by the European Head and Neck Cancer society (EHNS). 

Here is an infographic they put out in September for the European Head and Neck Cancer Week.

(I used Docufreezer to convert the graphics below from PDF form so that you could see them without having to click.)…

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What is HBO like? Thursday Investigator

Dunedin member Sue McDonnell who had tongue cancer a year ago was offered hyperbaric oxygen treatment in Christchurch to help heal the recurring ulcers in her mouth. HBO is usually given to head and neck cancer patients who need dental extractions but it is also good for other problems with healing. There is more information under the article.…

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After my cancer treatment three years ago I was living alone in a new town, looking for ways to give back and to connect to my community. Like plenty of cancer survivors and carers before me I volunteered to help at the local Hospice. 

What  sticks in my mind about my Hospice volunteer stint is a conversation I heard during the three-day orientation course. We were addressed by a spiritual adviser. This’ll be good, I thought. I love a bit of philosophising. After…

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DHB Dental Care for HNC: Investigator

We were told at the last Auckland meeting that head and neckers were eligible for one episode of care by specialist dentists after treatment. In Auckland there is a service that spans ADHB and CMDHB called Oral Health with clinics at Greenlane, Middlemore and elsewhere. Aucklanders, as I have said before, have…

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Swallowing Issues

This is an extract from a 2015 newsletter of a meeting at Domain Lodge. Swallowing issues do not go out of date.

Speaking today was head and neck surgeon Dr Bren Dorman from the ORL department. His talk was on swallowing issues and consisted of
videos as well as slides. The videos were of scoping procedures within the hospital clinic or the ward, showing swallowing tests and impediments to swallowing as well as some of the treatments offered.

Patients in the…

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Being a Caregiver

When one member of the family gets cancer, the whole family gets it, people say. In our head and neck cancer community we have many members who have become strong advocates for their partners. Here is one such story of love and commitment. 

Taking on the role of caregiver came to me on two occasions only a few short years apart.  Suddenly and devastatingly each time, with no warning and no instruction manual.  It landed on my lap by default…

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Consumers' Code of Rights

If you are like me, you will be vaguely aware of the Code of Rights for consumers using the health system. You will have seen the tomato-coloured posters on waiting room walls entitled “Your Rights” or “Ou Tika”. You'll largely ignore them although you have been known to fire off an emotive email to a hospital department at times.…

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