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Med student earns a big A

August 02, 2007

Re "Big C in the course work," Column One, July 28

In September 2005, I had just returned to USC to begin a doctorate in gerontology.

As a 35-year-old mother of two young children and a former geriatric social worker, I was eager to begin my advocacy and academic career to impact policies and to help older adults.

But I found a strange lump in my neck. The next thing I knew, I was walking into USC Norris Cancer Center for some tests. The irony of going back to school to study aging, and ending up in the cancer hospital with "all those old people" just a few weeks later, was quite palpable.

However, cancer is not just for old people, and I now know firsthand the horrors of experiencing six brutal rounds of chemotherapy, being poked and prodded and left to wait for hours, and ultimately being treated differently by some staff because I was wearing a hospital gown.

I endured. The doctors and chemo nurses at USC Norris saved my life, and I am thankful.

I am back in school, finishing my second year of classes in gerontology. I can only hope that I can use my experiences to assist other patients, old or young, and to influence physicians and healthcare policymakers. I know Joshua Lilienstein can do the same.

Caroline Cicero

Los Angeles

If the bright, committed medical student who had cancer and whose dedicated physical therapist mother who took a leave from her job to monitor his medical care almost dies of medical mismanagement, what hope is there for the rest of us, who, although insured, come from nonmedical backgrounds? Scary.

Andrew P. Crane

Los Angeles

God bless and keep in his hands this incredible young man and soon to be wonderful physician.

Vincent J. Carollo MD


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