Rambam Grand Rounds

Cancer of the Throat: A Physician’s Experience as a Patient

Itzhak Brook


The author, a practicing physician, was diagnosed with throat cancer and lost his vocal cords. He endured the side effects of radiation, repeated surgeries, and the effects of prolonged hospitalizations; confronted medical mistakes and discrimination after losing his vocal cords; and struggled to regain his speech and find new meaning and purpose for his life. Facing the hardship and trials of becoming a laryngectomee illustrated to him how dependent and helpless a patient can become. Being unable to speak, eat, and breathe normally, while dealing with a potentially terminal illness, makes the patient very vulnerable, both physically and emotionally. A skillful, competent, error-free, empathetic, and caring approach that recognizes what the patient is experiencing can expedite recovery and well-being and help the patient return to a productive and meaningful life.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2016;7(3):e0025