In late December of 2017, Larry Michaels – realtor, outdoors adventurer, husband and friend – received a diagnosis of neuroendocrine gastrinoma pancreatic tumor. It was a rare diagnosis, surprising for a man who was so healthy and active. By the time his illness was discovered, the tumor had metastasized to his liver.
Treating Larry’s Cancer
Marc Greenblatt, MD, at the UVM Medical Center and Diane Reidy, MD, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center collaboratively manage Larry’s treatment. By any definition, that treatment has been a grueling battle. Chemotherapy, hormone treatment and embolization have been the foot soldiers. Screens, scans and exams have been the messengers.
Playing an Active Role
Through it all, Larry has played an active role in the collaboration between UVM Medical Center and Sloan Kettering. Drs. Greenblatt and Reidy have successfully managed Larry’s treatment, making it easier when possible for procedures to be done here in Vermont. Larry has experienced the care of our many health care professionals here at the UVM Medical Center. He works with all of them with courage, dignity and grace.
Learning From Larry
And he has used his experiences to help us improve the way we provide care. Working with our patient advisory team, Larry has shared his thoughts on how we can better treat the whole person by listening and embedding compassion in every aspect of the care experience. He has provided specific examples that speaks volumes: the physician who responded too bluntly when Larry asked about his prognosis; the nurses and technicians who sent him a note after one of his interventional radiology procedures; the staff who scheduled a CT scan the same day, when tensions were high.
Today, he continues to be optimistic about his future, knowing that he is his own best advocate.
“I’m as lucky as you can be with this unlucky diagnosis,” he says. “and I’m grateful for the people caring for me. They listen to me when I share my perspective on what they can do better and make every effort to show how much they care in everything they do. They are engaged with me as partners in this difficult journey.”