What Blinds One Might Blind Another

By: Mary Kate Gladstone, JD Candidate at Wake Forest University School of Law

The Researcher

I still remember the very first day I walked through the doors here.  It was much like the first time you do anything, really. There were nerves and excitement and the ever-sobering realization that I would never be able to do that very thing for the very first time ever again. The research center was situated on the outskirts of the city, lifted up on a small hill where it bounced the early morning sunbeams off of its metallic surface and into the eyes of passersby like myself. The first day I drove up to the center, I had to throw my hand up to my eyes to protect from the building’s blinding reflection. Continue reading “What Blinds One Might Blind Another”

Treating Gun Violence as a Public Health Problem: Exploring Intersecting Root Causes

By: Professor Christine Coughlin, Wake Forest University School of Law

Photo by Fabrice Florin

Run, hide in the closet.”  Little eyes fill with tears and arms stretch out. The teacher gives the children tootsie roll candies and whispers for them to be quiet.  A fifth-grade boy starts to pray.  The children all hold hands as the teacher hugs them.  They huddle in the closet in the music room and wait. . .  

That day, these children were all safe, thanks to the brave teachers and administrators who quickly instituted a lock down, the resilient children who stayed calm, and the fast-acting police force.  For this, I will always be grateful, as this was the scene described to me by daughter, now fourteen, about events that happened to her when she was ten.

I write, in part, because it helps me make sense of a world where alternative facts have become our reality.  However, there are no alternative facts for the events that took place this week in Parkland, Florida:  an 18-year-old with an assault rifle and 17 innocent lives lost.

Continue reading “Treating Gun Violence as a Public Health Problem: Exploring Intersecting Root Causes”

Let’s Honor the Mothers of Modern Gynecology

By: Katie Baiocchi, JD Candidate at Wake Forest University School of Law

Image from Pearson Museum, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

In August, my Facebook News Feed was flooded with images of the violence and hate that descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, motivated directly by controversy surrounding the protest and subsequent removal of Confederate monuments across the South. However, during this tumultuous time, one particular post[1] caught my attention because the monument being protested was not one erected to honor Confederate soldiers, but rather to honor the “Father of Modern Gynecology.” Furthermore, the statue being protested was not located in the South like the others, but rather Central Park, in the heart of New York City. The statue at issue celebrates a man who mutilated the bodies of black women without their consent, rather than memorializing and honoring the brave young women who suffered at his hands. I was deeply moved by the image before me and immediately disgusted by the fact that I had lived in ignorance so long about the horrors performed at the hands of Dr. James Marion Sims. Continue reading “Let’s Honor the Mothers of Modern Gynecology”

Their Stories Matter: Effectively Counseling Clients with Breast Cancer

By: Beth Gianopulos, Esq., Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

In the early 1980s, when a woman was diagnosed with breast cancer it felt like a death sentence.  At least that was the way I felt, as a 10-year-old, when my mother told me that she had breast cancer.  I immediately thought, “My mom is going to die.” After the shock of the initial diagnosis, my mother discussed treatment.  She would have a mastectomy, and all of her lymph nodes would be removed.  The results of her surgery would set the course for additional treatment.

At the time, hospitals did not allow children in hospital rooms.  After the trauma of having her breast removed and recovering from a bad reaction to anesthesia, the only way that my mother could see me, her only child, was to come down to the public lobby in a wheelchair. As I look back now, I am impressed by my mother’s strength, and saddened by the healthcare provider’s lack of understanding.  Fortunately, with new developments like family-centered care, a situation like the one my mother faced has become a rarity in today’s hospitals.  Now, children are allowed to visit their mothers in their rooms, and we involve families in the care and decisions that are made.

Over the past 20 years, enormous strides have been made in the treatment of breast cancer.  Not only is breast cancer no longer a death sentence, but many women are able to have lumpectomies or less radical surgeries.  Reconstructive surgeries have improved, and the overall understanding of the physical impact of breast cancer has grown.  However, despite these strides, a diagnosis of breast cancer still carries with it huge emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical issues.  The legal community is now beginning to understand the complexity of these issues, including the legal issues that breast cancer patients face.  Because the impact of a breast cancer diagnosis is so personal, the best way to get a glimpse of the issues facing breast cancer patients is to speak to them and hear their stories.

With the background of my personal experience with breast cancer, I decided to interview breast cancer patients to identify three or four recurring themes related to their care and treatment.  I anticipated that the patients would face a number of emotional and other issues that they may not realize could have legal implications. Of course, these issues are not isolated to only breast cancer patients, but with my mother’s experience, I felt most familiar with their experiences and am emotionally vested in this specific topic.  However, I was not prepared for the wide range of experiences I learned about, and I quickly realized that while there are many common themes for the patients, each individual’s breast cancer journey is unique. Continue reading “Their Stories Matter: Effectively Counseling Clients with Breast Cancer”

Legality and Morality of Physician-Assisted Suicide: Perspectives on Choice in Relation to Theology, Conviction, and Medical Ethics

By: Milan K. Sheth, M.A. in Biomedicine-Eastern Mennonite University

The legality and ethics of palliative physician-assisted suicide (PAS) has been a controversial debate as individuals continue to question the righteousness of doctors assisting in the suicide of patients with a life expectancy of six months or less (1).

The purpose of this article is to explore the theological, ethical, and scientific perspectives of both sides of the debate; one side asserts that PAS protects those who are sick and promotes holistic health in the final stages of life, while the other side states that PAS is unethical, blasphemous, and sinful. Both arguments rely on exploring respect for individual autonomy; it is by choice and with recognition of the rights of competent people to choose the timing and manner of their death when faced with terminal illness. Continue reading “Legality and Morality of Physician-Assisted Suicide: Perspectives on Choice in Relation to Theology, Conviction, and Medical Ethics”

Community Event: Am I My Brother’s Medical Keeper?

Brothers Medical Keeper-2.jpg

The debate over the Affordable Care Act during President Obama’s administration and the ongoing debate over the future of the ACA today makes very clear how divided we are over who should fund health care and how, what it means to provide access to good quality health care, what choices individuals and families should have regarding their health care coverage, the obligations we have to others in our community, who counts as a community member, and the trade-offs we should make in shaping the U.S. health care system. At its heart, this divide is about differing views on what sort of good health care is, what it is for, and how a health care system should and can work.  But that value question is rarely addressed head on in debates about whether the ACA should be replaced and, if so, by what. The panel discussion and interactive demonstration we have planned will help us explore these issues as a community.

Dinner will be served from 5-5:30 pm. The panel and hands-on interactive demonstration will begin at 5:30 pm.

Registration is required and space is limited:  https://wfu.cvent.com/d/wtqkf4/1Q Continue reading “Community Event: Am I My Brother’s Medical Keeper?”

Event Promotion: Wake Up Winston – Advocate Day and Open Mic Night

Safe Zone in Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine and the Offices of Inclusion and Diversity and Student Inclusion and Diversity at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center cordially invite you to participate on Friday October 6, 2017 in our Wake Up Winston Advocate Day and Open Mic Night featuring Donovan Livingston as MC. 

This event will serve as a community celebration of diversity and inclusion and unite advocates and allies. This event will give our community members space to express their experiences and feelings through a variety of artistic expressions AND empower advocates and allies to show their solidarity. We are inviting you to participate in this community event. This is an open mic night with the goal of providing a safe space to both celebrate diversity, inclusion, and equity, as well as engage in constructive dialogue, provide awareness, and connect with each other to rise above experiences of injustice and inequity both in medicine and in the world around us.

Continue reading “Event Promotion: Wake Up Winston – Advocate Day and Open Mic Night”

2105: A Designer Baby Odyssey

By: Laura Browder, Associate Attorney at Wyatt Early Harris Wheeler LLP

Celeste was yanked out of a dreamless sleep by a sudden wave of vibrations traveling up her left wrist. Fumbling with the sleek ceramic face of the watch – if it could even be called a watch, with its time-telling ability often overshadowed by its myriad other capabilities – she managed to align her right index finger on the screen with the surgical-like precision that the device seemed to require. The vibrations stopped, only to be replaced by the shrill voice of Isabelle Hall, her crisis-prone assistant.   Continue reading “2105: A Designer Baby Odyssey”

The Keeping of Cancer

By: Mary Taylor Mann, Ph.D. Student at Emory University

In September 2014, Cassandra C. was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In re Cassandra C., 316 Conn. 476, 112 A.3d 158 (2015). For the next two months, multiple pediatric and oncology specialists urged Cassandra and her mother to begin chemotherapy treatment for Cassandra’s cancer. All physicians agreed that, with immediate treatment, Cassandra would have a high likelihood of cure. Without treatment, however, the cancer would inevitably lead to Cassandra’s death. Cassandra and her mother were skeptical of the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments and feared the anticipated harmful side effects of long-term cancer treatments. Cassandra wanted to explore alternative therapy treatments. She did research and learned of other Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients who were successfully treating their cancer with natural therapies. Continue reading “The Keeping of Cancer”