CANCER SHERPA

Let us help you navigate your cancer treatment options
via virtual consulation.
About Cancer Sherpa
Dr. Neill Iscoe is one of Canada's most active and distinguished medical oncologists. He has been caring for cancer patients for nearly 40 years.

With a Cancer Sherpa Virtual Consultation, Dr. Iscoe will listen, review, identify and help formulate questions you may want to ask your medical team. He can help you understand the tests, procedures, therapies and treatments your oncologist has recommended.

Cancer is a life-changing experience and a journey that no one wants to take. Cancer Sherpa can help you better understand your diagnosis, the merits of a second opinion, and how to communicate your story to family and friends.

Through Cancer Sherpa, Dr Iscoe provides compassionate support to help you and your loved ones get through this difficult time.
Founder
Dr. Neill Iscoe
Dr. Iscoe is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto. He sees patients at the Odette Cancer Centre (Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre) and Mount Sinai Hospital. A distinguished medical practitioner with close to 40 years at an academic centre and 15 years with a major pharmaceutical company working in research, local medical affairs and corporate late-stage drug development. He has led and participated in clinical research and has taught more than a generation of leading Canadian oncologists. In 2014, Dr Iscoe was a core member for the global launch of a new oncology molecule.

Why choose Cancer Sherpa?
Experience
Dr. Iscoe understands your immediate and future needs and can help build a comprehensive care plan for treatment.
Individual Approach
Every patient is different. Dr Iscoe takes the time to understand your unique situation. Via phone or video, your consultation is 100% confidential.
Answers to Questions
You need a clear understanding of your diagnosis. Cancer Sherpa
will walk you through your available treatment options, and, if desired, help you understand the merits of a second opinion.
Family Support
Family and caregivers need information too.
Cancer Sherpa can help.
Stress Management
Cancer Sherpa can recommend supportive therapies that may help you on this journey.
Expert Listener
Dr. Iscoe will provide personalized advice that comforts and informs.
Services
Free 15 minute phone or video consultation
A full review and discussion of your diagnosis and management plan
Communication assistance with family and friends
Medical appointment accompaniment as required
Supportive therapies as required
Optimism and Cancer
Atul Gawande's "Being Mortal" should be required reading for all doctors and anyone facing death. Meaning all of us.
Dr. Gawande is a Harvard surgeon who has written for the New Yorker, and his book covers many important issues:

1. Empathetic discussions about prognosis.While people want hope, I tell patients and families you cannot plan your life based on winning the lottery. The old saying "hope for the best but plan for the worst" is apt for anyone with an advanced disease that is not curable.

2. Early integration of palliative care so the transition from treatment to control of disease to a greater focus on care to control symptoms is seamless.

3. Frank discussions on the futility of heroic efforts. Even if a patient were to live their life they would be functionally MUCH poorer than before the event. It is not like the TV shows!

4. Hope is a good thing but false hope can lead to misery. Sherwin Nuland wrote a chapter in his award-winning book "How We Die" about cancer and the meaning of hope. He describes the real case (as does Dr. Gawande) of a man destined to die of colon cancer who found hope in something meaningful (and attainable). I believe that the important question to ask is "hope for what?"
If the answer is a cure (a cure that is not possible in many, if not most, instances) then the conversation can shift to goals that could be attainable and meaningful to the patient and family. The trick is to learn what is important to THAT person and to assist where possible.

Perhaps a better way to frame the question for those with progressive incurable disease is "are treatments going to prolong life or prolong death?" For too many patients their last days are surrounded by machines and not in the company of those truly important to them.

In 1927 Dr Frances Peabody ended his essay on "The Care of the Patient" (JAMA 1927; 88: 877-882) by stating: "one of the essential qualities of the clinician is interest in humanity, for the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient."

My professor told me his professor said "there are no uninteresting patients, only uninterested doctors."

At times when people are confronted with their own mortality we should assist them in writing their life's final chapter. The only way to do this is to understand their life story - not just their medical story. -- Dr. Neill Iscoe
CANCER SHERPA
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