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Tennessee Oncology Fights Cancer

Dr. An Tran for Live Well Magazine

Being able to care for patients under Tennessee Oncology (TN Onc) is truly a blessing for me.  I recently completed my training and started my professional career at TN Onc, in Chattanooga.  It is a place that I am proud to be a part of in caring for patients with cancers and blood disorders.  At TN Onc, we care for patients with benign conditions, such as iron deficiency anemia (low blood counts), to the most serious such as end-stage cancers.  In recent years, there have been numerous breakthroughs in cancer care.  One example is the new targeted therapy for breast cancer, Kadcyla®. For women with breast cancers that express a specific target called HER2/neu, this medication was proven in rigorous scientific studies to help patients live longer, with acceptable adverse side effects.  At TN Onc, we embrace changes and scientific progress and offer this state-of-the-art therapy to all our patients who are appropriate candidates for such therapy.  We are also committed to research to try to improve on the care of patients with cancer by offering clinical trials that are typically only available at major academic institutions in the country.  Despite being in a relative small city, our patients can potentially benefit from being involved in clinical trials, trials that may also benefit our future generations.

Growing up in America as a young immigrant has given me a unique perspective on what it means to be a doctor with TN Onc.  The challenges of learning English as a second language are quite humbling.  Similarly, adjusting t the American Culture is equally daunting, with many embarrassing moments.

Through the various trials and tribulations, I have developed a unique appreciation for the kind of service I provide as a physician.  My patients commonly ask me, “What made you decide to become an oncologist?”  A question that is frequently asked but never seem old to me, my consistent response has been “Because I find it gratifying to ber able to help people in their times of desperate needs.” The needs of which are not unlike those who are in poverty, whose lives hang in the balance, that I personally experienced and witnessed as a young child in a third-world country prior to immigrating with my family to America.

My unique background helps shape my approach to patient care.  I believe that understanding my patients’ values is critical in delivering optimal care to them, especially for those with cancer diagnoses.  It is true that we have made much progress in cancer care.  We are able to cure many more cancers than ever before.  However, the undeniable fact remains; cancer kills.  Understanding patients’ values allow me to improve their care by limiting aggressive and, frequently, undesirable interventions that do not result in the improvement of overall quality of care.  In addition, I believe that understanding the patient’s family challenges is equally important, as cancers infrequently affect the patients alone but also their loved ones.  From the commitment of time, requiring missing work, and frequent financial difficulties, the psychological stress that families endure is often striking.  Understanding these aspects helps me in the appropriate tailoring of care for my patients.