Ask the Oncologist: Meet Dr. Knopf
Hello, I am very excited and honored to be part of the MyBreastCancerNetwork and I hope to offer some insight that can help navigate the many new issues that surface for breast cancer patients. I thought I would give some background about myself and what we can hope for.
I grew up the son of a doctor and as a child had asthma, so I spent time visiting doctors myself. Growing up I always wanted to be a doctor. However, in high school I loved math and physics and I flirted with engineering for a few years. I actually earned my undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering but during college I was reading a lot of literature and philosophy and exploring the world, and I realized that engineering didn’t have the emotional resonance I was looking for in a career. Engineers certainly help people with the devices they design on a grand scale, but I wanted something more hands on day to day. I have found that in medicine.
I became an oncologist because of several experiences along the way. My grandmother died of breast cancer when I was young, at a time when cancer had a much more ominous tone. She probably would have been cured if she was around today. In medical school I connected emotionally with my cancer patients in a deep and meaningful way. It was wonderful to discover that empathy and listening could do so much for a patient. At the same time my medical school had a rich tradition of molecular biology and I found the science behind cancer to be fascinating.
Then in my senior year of medical school my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was at the consultation and was extremely anxious but remember the oncologist saying he thought she had a 90 percent cure rate. To me that seemed a wonderful thing to be able to tell someone, and I have since always been thankful I decided to go into oncology. At the same time the research in molecular biology that started in the 70s is now paying off in a big way and many new therapies are being introduced that have made such a meaningful difference for our patients.
Health care is undergoing a very dramatic period. For cancer patients in many ways things are continually improving – newer therapies that are more effective and often less toxic, better supportive care, and real breakthroughs in breast cancer. They never come as quick as we would like, but it is a very interesting time. Patients can make the best of the health care system by staying informed and involved in their care.
I have published clinical articles and book chapters and given many talks and presentations but this is the first “blog” I have participated in so I am quite excited to see how this will work out. I hope to cover new developments in breast cancer that have importance on patient care. Sometimes these are therapeutic breakthroughs but I would also like to share new information on prevention and screening, genetics, and cancer survivorship as they come about. Hopefully we can clarify confusing issues and help us all do our best in fighting breast cancer.
Please submit any questions you have to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will try to answer several a month on any topic related to breast cancer. Some questions are a little harder to answer – for example a 2nd opinion by email is always challenging – but I will do my best to answer questions that can help us all.
Published On: August 01, 2006