Video: The New Rush University Cancer Center

Here’s our new video about the new Rush University Cancer Center for outpatients. The video features medical oncologist Philip Bonomi, MD, surgical oncologist and Rush University Cancer Center director Howard Kaufman, MD, acute care nurse practitioner Sharon Manson, RN, and clinical psychologist Janine Gauthier, PhD, of the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program.

Lifetime of Healing: Janet Wolter, MD, Retires

By Kevin McKeough

When Janet Wolter, MD, first began practicing medicine, the polio vaccine hadn’t yet been discovered, and cancer was so feared that it wasn’t discussed openly.

By the time she retired as Brian Piccolo Chair of Cancer Research and professor of internal medicine at Rush at the end of November 2009, Wolter had provided thousands of cancer patients with hope and made important contributions to the advances that have transformed cancer care and outcomes.

To honor Wolter, Rush is hosting a seminar of former residents and fellows on Feb. 27 and will name a new teaching area after her. The Janet Wolter, MD, Clinical and Educational Conference Room will provide a comfortable, high-tech home for the education of residents and fellows and for collaboration among clinicians of various specialties. The room will be built as part of the renovation of the 10th floor of the Professional Building later this year to house Rush’s new outpatient cancer center. The educational focus of these tributes reflects Wolter’s enduring influence on generations of physicians.

“She served as a role model, for me and many other oncologists who trained at Rush; for our internal medicine residents and students; and especially for many female physicians,” says Philip Bonomi, MD, Alice Pirie Wirtz professor of medical oncology and director of hematology-oncology at Rush, who trained with Wolter as an oncology fellow. “She’s a very fastidious physician who has taken excellent care of patients. There’s no one better,” Bonomi continues. “On Monday mornings, the oncology team goes through new cases, and to this day her remarks are incredibly insightful and pertinent, not only in breast cancer but other cases.”

Seventh grade plans

A native of River Forest, Wolter declared her intention to be a doctor in a seventh grade essay. In the late 1940s, she first came to what would become Rush during a clerkship at Presbyterian Hospital while attending the University of Illinois College of Medicine. (Presbyterian eventually merged with both St. Luke’s Hospital and Rush Medical College to form what now is Rush University Medical Center.) World War II had just ended when she was accepted into medical school.

Janet Wolter, MD, in 1954, when she was chief resident at the University of Illinois Research and Education Hospital.

Janet Wolter, MD, in 1954, when she was chief resident at the University of Illinois Research and Education Hospital.

“A lot of the guys weren’t out of the service yet,” Wolter recalls. “In my class of 165, 21 were women, but the next year when everybody came back from the war, it went down to four women and 161 men.”

After receiving her medical degree in 1950, Wolter completed training at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Duke University Hospital, the University of Illinois Research and Education Hospital and Presbyterian Hospital before joining the U of I faculty. There, she treated polio patients, who were confined in iron lungs that enabled them to breathe.

“All the equipment back then was big and rigid and heavy,” Wolter remembers. “We had no computers. Electrocardiograms (EKGs) were done on photographic paper, and every floor in a hospital had a darkroom where you’d develop the EKG.”

The advent of the polio vaccine in the mid-’50s eventually led to the end of her program, and Wolter joined the Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital faculty in 1963 to collaborate with pioneering physician Samuel G. Taylor III, MD, in his work treating cancer patients with hormones and chemotherapy. “It wasn’t even called oncology. There wasn’t even a name for it then,” she remembers. “There really wasn’t anything that could be called cancer care. If the surgeon couldn’t remove the tumor, that was it.” Continue reading

Getting a Second Opinion

By Judy Germany

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you may want to get a second opinion from another specialist before you begin treatment. A second opinion is an especially good idea if you feel uncertain about the proposed treatment or you think your doctor underestimates the seriousness of your illness.

Even if you like your doctor and trust his or her treatment plan, you should still consider getting another opinion — not only to confirm the cancer diagnosis but, more important, to make sure you learn about every available treatment. In fact, many patients who get second opinions end up staying with the doctor who diagnosed or initially treated them, but talking to another specialist can empower you to make decisions based on fully understanding all of your options.

The following tips will help guide you through this important process:

Getting Started

  • Begin by telling your doctor that you want to get a second opinion. Cancer patients commonly seek a second opinion and some health plans actually require one, especially when a doctor recommends surgery or an experimental therapy. But some people may not feel comfortable talking to their doctor about getting another opinion. To make discussing the issue easier, tell your doctor that you are satisfied with his or her treatment plan and care, but that you want to ensure you are thoroughly informed about all available cancer treatment options. It may help to bring a family member or friend along for support when you have the conversation.
  • Ask your doctor for copies of your medical records, original x-rays, lab and test results so you can take them with you on your first visit for a second opinion. You can also have the new doctor’s office request your records from your primary doctor if that is more convenient. It’s a good idea to request copies of your medical records even if you don’t plan to seek a second opinion, in case of an emergency. Your doctor’s office may charge a small fee to copy the records. Continue reading