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Sharp Health News

Putting patients first when treating cancer

Oct. 17, 2018

Putting patients first when treating cancer

Cancer care specialists Drs. Kelly DeWitt, Helen Sohn and Reema Batra share a commitment to clinical excellence and compassionate care.

Patients with cancer expect their doctor to provide the highest level of advanced clinical care. They also hope that their care providers will see them as a person, not just a patient.

Whether the treatment plan includes surgery, radiation or immunotherapy, patients at Sharp will find a treatment team that combines compassionate care with a focus on clinical excellence.

Three Sharp Grossmont Hospital-affiliated doctors talk about their care philosophy — particularly in caring for patients with cancer — and what drew them to the field of cancer care.

Dr. Kelly DeWitt, radiation oncologist
Dr. DeWitt knew early on that she wanted to work with cancer patients — and it’s why she went to medical school. She says that radiation oncology suits her interest and personality because it merges the environment of a clinical practice with the technical aspects of her medical specialty.

Dr. DeWitt considers every aspect of her patients’ experience. “Expert medical care begins with the clinic staff member who answers the phone and with the face at the front desk when a patient walks in the door,” she says. “The team of people working behind the scenes and directly with the patient to provide care is every bit as important as the treatment itself.”

Dr. DeWitt also stresses how important it is for patients to have a provider that they feel comfortable with, particularly those who are embarking on their cancer treatment.

“As cancer care providers, we can’t always control the clinical outcomes of our patients. But we can always strive to provide the best experience possible for patients and family members to feel confident in and comfortable with — regardless of outcome,” she says.

Dr. Helen Sohn, general surgeon
Dr. Sohn likes to work with her hands. It’s what drew her to a career in surgery. In addition to treating cancer, she has a special interest in surgeries and minimally invasive techniques for the esophagus and stomach.

Her care philosophy can be expressed by the golden rule. When it comes to her patients, Dr. Sohn keeps in mind to “treat others as I would like to be treated.” She adds, “Every day, each interaction I have with my patients is a learning experience.”

Dr. Sohn wants her patients going through cancer treatment to know that they are not alone. “I realize that they face a journey full of challenges,” she says. “What can help them get through difficult times is knowing that there are others with cancer who are going through similar experiences. It helps to know that they are not the only one.”

Dr. Reema Batra, hematologist and oncologist
Dr. Batra realized that she wanted to specialize in hematology and oncology when she was placed on the oncology floor of the hospital during her internal medicine residency. “It quickly became my favorite rotation by far,” she recalls. “My interactions with patients and their families were incredible and truly made me feel like I was making a difference in someone’s life, regardless of the patients’ outcome.”

Dr. Batra says she has been shaped as a doctor and inspired by the strength of her patients who are dealing with cancer. “Staring death in the face and still maintaining optimism has got to be the hardest thing a patient has to do,” she says. “I also have learned that life is short — it is important to remind yourself to enjoy every little minute.”

Dr. Batra’s approach is to view her patients as a whole and not just focus on their disease. She also says that their friends and family play an important part. “We are here for you, and want to hear about everything that you are going through,” she says.

Learn more about cancer care at Sharp.

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