Monday, August 31, 2009

About Dr. David Lowther

I am a cancer doctor. I live and breathe cancer talk. I sit and walk through the most threatening of all medical diagnosis with my patients day in and day out as their, sometimes, only advocate. It’s in my genetic code to care. I think only of what is best for my patients. So, I began doing my own town halls over a month ago, which predated the summer recess and the national press coverage of town halls, incidentally. I did it when patients began speaking more of the proposed HR 3200 legislation than they did of their cancers. There was a moment in mid-July when I just said “enough already, the docs have to get involved and speak up for the patients.” I realized there was just a dire need to give them a voice.

My first impromptu “town hall” had over 300 participants when I truly expected more like 20-30. That fueled the desire to make this a movement. For the 2
nd town hall, I required a much larger venue and found a friend in a local move theater, Spotlight Theatres, which was willing to donate two theaters for 2 hours to the cause. Between those two town halls, Dr. Brian Hill had challenged Congressman David Scott and became symbolic of the debate. As a friend of mine, I invited him to my second meeting and he was stunned at the attendance and at the response to the presentation.

Since then, we have decided to dovetail our presentations and coordinate our efforts to educate the patients about the bill—but more importantly, to speak for the patients who are so disproportionately against this legislation despite what appears, on its facade, to be a concerted effort of “involved parties” such as the AMA, AARP, hospitals, drug companies, etc. I said it to the Senator and Congressional representative “handlers” when they called after my first two town halls to express their gratitude: this is not about’s an a-political effort by a single physician (now two) to educate their constituents about the expected outcomes of HC reform....they will not be asked to influence the dialogue...rather, they are invited to observe the essence, I said, I’m bringing the cancer clinic to THEIR door.

What no politician, no media conglomerate, no simple observer will ever know about the practice of medicine is that it is NOT simply a science of biologic facts colliding with a set of life circumstances. It is more than that. The relationship between a doctor and a patient rivals only that between a human being and a spiritual advisor, such as a rabbi, priest, or pastor. We are invited into the patient’s life by the patient in a way that even the closest family members are not privy to on many occasions. There is a genuine bond that most physicians at one point recognize transcends the simple physical contact of an examination or the recording of medical facts in a chart. This relationship is critical to the spiritual survival of the human soul, something even disease cannot threaten. Doctors feel it, know it, and it can often be overwhelming. It is where the rubber of “responsibility” hits the road. It cannot be affected by costs, cannot be overcome by platitudes, and cannot be forgotten by turning up a car stereo after work. We carry it with us every day of our lives. We know we are here to better the human condition. The patients teach US this role every day of our careers.

So Brian and I are fighting. We are fighting for YOU like we fight for you in our clinics. We welcome the responsibility. We are absolutely determined to put our patients first in this debate.

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