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JUNE 2017

Alumnus encourages cancer patients to fight

By Steve Seepersaud


Dr. Kerry Forrestal '86, MBA '92As an emergency room physician, Kerry Forrestal '86, MBA '92 has told patients who came to him seeking relief from a seemingly unrelated condition that they show signs of cancer.

"I get these patients set up for their next appointment, answer the few questions they can think to ask me through the haze of disbelief and then they leave," Forrestal said. "I've encouraged every patient I've given that news to call me back with any question. None of them ever have."

Wanting to change the conversation around cancer and provide better answers to the frequently asked "Now what?" question, Forrestal began writing the book Warrior Stance, its name taken from a phrase he heard from one of his patients who was battling cancer long-term.

"I thought it was the perfect summation,” Forrestal said. “You can't consider yourself a victim. You have to fight to win."

While not intended to replace the advice that only a care provider can give in real time, the book, he said, will offer some measure of help, hope and empowerment to those who have just been diagnosed.

"A cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence, but rather a fight," Forrestal said. "If you're going to win that fight, you have to assume a warrior stance. Get ready to fight! You can fight and the likelihood is that, with today's medicine, you will win."

He's looking for patients willing to blog about their experiences for a year. Family members can share stories as well. The book will include the best stories that demonstrate the pitfalls and strategies of dealing with a cancer diagnosis. He's also looking for people involved in oncology care who would want to help recruit newly diagnosed patients into sharing their cancer journey.

Warrior Stance will also have perspectives from experts in oncology, surgery, pharmacology, family practice and counseling. Forrestal wants to cut through the vast clutter of information about cancer (some of which can be poor advice or an outright scam) so patients focus on what's most important.

"They're in a storm of fear and uncertainty and have to make potentially life-changing decisions," he said. "Your doctors make every effort to answer questions, but time is limited. Questions are forgotten, answers are misunderstood and new issues constantly come up.

"What's in it for you to participate in our project? You'll have the opportunity to share your story, you'll help others who will follow and together we may just improve some facet of cancer care."

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