Patient Perspectives

Interview conducted by: Abhi Jairam, MS4 and Dr. Catherine Vu, MD
Special thanks to Dr. Catherine Vu

Patient perspectives is a series of interviews conducted by medical student members of the patient and family centered care committee of the SIR medical student council. The goal of these interviews is to inform the reader of patient’s experiences as they undergo various IR procedures. We hope that these interviews shed light on the effects that IR physicians and the procedures they perform can have on patient’s lives. We also hope that they answer the questions that some patients and patient’s families may have regarding a potential IR procedure. All personal health information has been removed from the below interview to ensure the anonymity of the interviewed patient.

What procedure did you have done?
Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) for Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Had you ever been treated by an interventional radiologist before?
I have not.

How did you end up with the interventional radiologist?
My Surgical Oncologist referred me.

What is your understanding of what an interventional radiologist does?
They are specialists for the exact problem. Surgery was not the best option for me.

How did this change from before your procedure to after?
Yes, it changed a lot. I became more familiar with what needed to be done. I was told there was no other option other than surgery or chemotherapy before I was introduced to Dr. Vu.

How did your medical condition impact your quality of life prior to the procedure?
I became healthier all owing to the help of Dr. Vu. Cancer can make you feel helpless and Dr. Vu helped me feel more confident.

Prior to your procedure, did your doctor give you an explanation of the procedure in a manner that was easy to understand?
Yes.

Did you have any concerns going into your procedure?
Yes, as a cancer patient, I was experiencing a lot of worry but I felt reassured that the treatment would help me.

What was it like being in the IR suite as a patient?
The whole staff treated me like they would treat their own family.

What was recovery like?
Recovery was very smooth and I am happy with the results.

Did you follow up with your interventional radiologist after the procedure?
Yes.

For how long did you follow-up with your interventional radiologist? How many times did you see them?
I have followed up with Dr. Vu more than 10 times since 2015. I saw her 2 weeks after the procedure, and then every 3 months for 2 years, and now every 6 months.

Was the patient-physician relationship different than what you are used to? If so, how?
Since I have been primarily seeing Dr. Vu in follow up, I trust her. I like to send her Christmas cards every year which is the anniversary of my treatment. I have the same relationship with my PCP. I do not have this relationship with another specialist.

Are you happy with the care you received from your interventional radiologist? Is there anything you wish went differently?
Yes, very happy. No, I am happy with what was done.

How did your quality of life change as a result of the procedure?
I just feel more confident with my health. I am very happy.

Do you have any other thoughts about your experience?
As a message for other cancer patients in my situation, try your best to be optimistic and trust your doctor’s recommendations. Dr. Vu and her interventional radiology team saved my life.

The SIR medical student council would like to thank the above patient for their time and for sharing their experience.