Voices: Robbie Medbery, MD

As a white physician, it is easy to overlook the struggles that our patients of color experience daily. After the death of George Floyd, I decided that I had to start listening to my patients closely to learn what they go through and to make sure that I am not contributing to their pain. Once I asked the question, I started hearing heartbreaking stories about how my Black patients are treated in a town where health care providers are largely white. Mainly, I heard that our Black patients didn't feel like they were seen. Thankfully, I heard universally that the radiation center had been a safe haven for them, and they all felt appreciated for who they were and not judged by their color. Three patients told me that they were ready to give up on their cancer because they were so disheartened. My staff, with their wonderfully embracing personalities, had made the difference for these patients. However, we had failed to notice how the rest of the medical community was ignoring the needs of these patients and had failed to make sure those non-radiation needs were met. I have vowed to not let this happen again.

Sometimes we forget how much power we have in the lives of our patients. I encourage everyone to ask the uncomfortable questions and be ready to hear what might be some uncomfortable truths. Be the bright light of encouragement for each and every patient. ‚Äč

Robbie Medbery, M.D.
Sechler Family Cancer Center

American Society for Radiation Oncology
251 18th Street South, 8th Floor
Arlington, VA 22202
Telephone: 703-502-1550


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