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Helping Cancer Survivors Turn Tragedy into Triumph

Dr. Thomas Eanelli, Radiation Oncologist, Survivor/Thriver Supporter, Jersey Collector

During June, as we honor National Cancer Survivor Month, Navigating Cancer TOGETHER will share powerful stories of resilience, wisdom, and unwavering dedication. Our first guest this month is none other than Dr. Thomas Eanelli, a renowned radiation oncologist from New York. Dr. Eanelli's commitment to his patients and community shines through his work and heartfelt dedication to making a difference in the world of cancer care. Side note. Dr. Eanelli requested that I refer to him as Tom during our conversation.


Dr. Eanelli is an inspiring figure in the field of oncology with nearly four decades of experience. Dedicated to supporting cancer survivors and their families, Dr. Eanelli is the President of CROC (Citizens Reunited to Overcome Cancer), a grassroots organization established in 1999 to aid cancer survivors and thrivers.


Dr. Eanelli's Journey


Dr. Eanelli shared insights into his journey as a radiation oncologist, emphasizing the importance of approaching patients with empathy and breaking down barriers. He passionately talked about the significance of informality, symbolized by his tradition of wearing sports jerseys to work, making himself more approachable and humanizing the patient-doctor relationship.


The Power of Stories


Dr. Eanelli engages listeners with anecdotes from his career, highlighting the stories behind each sports jersey he wore and the meaningful connections he forged with his patients. He emphasized that understanding a patient's background and life story is crucial for providing holistic and compassionate care.


"Become your own oncologist. Do some digging." - Dr. Eanelli

Dr. Thomas Eanelli, Raditaion Oncologist, Survivor/Thriver Supporter

Overcoming Challenges


Discussing the importance of diverse experiences and dealing with complex cases, Dr. Eanelli shed light on how he maintains his well-being. He shared that nature, adventure, and time with family rejuvenated him, allowing him to show up with full dedication to his patients.


Redefining Survivorship


The concept of survivorship can mean different things to different people. Dr. Eanelli explained the origins of the term "cancer survivorship" established by Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan and its evolution. He elaborated on the importance of acknowledging diverse perspectives, and why he uses the term "thriver" alongside "survivor" to honor individual preferences and experiences.


The Four Pillars of CROC


Dr. Eanelli introduced the four pillars that guide CROC's mission:

1. Engender Informality: Creating an approachable environment for patients to eradicate fear.

2. Disseminating Information: Ensuring patients are well-informed about their condition, treatment options, and prognosis to ensure shared decision-making.

3. Encouraging Approachability: Making sure patients feel worthy and comfortable approaching their healthcare providers, which leads to better outcomes.

4. Demand Accessibility: Breaking down barriers to ensure patients have timely and equitable access to care.


Advice for Newly Diagnosed Patients


Addressing the fear and confusion that often accompany a cancer diagnosis, Dr. Eanelli stressed the importance of reframing the patient's perspective. He likened cancer to any other chronic illness, emphasizing the need for proper information, a clear plan that guides the patient from diagnosis to post-treatment, and a solid support network.


The Power of a Strong Support Network


Dr. Eanelli highlighted the critical role of a strong support network and how impactful stories and shared experiences can be in bringing patients and caregivers closer. He shared touching anecdotes of patient interactions and how these relationships foster trust and hope.


Final Thoughts


Dr. Eanelli concluded the conversation by urging listeners to join the revolution for equitable and compassionate cancer care. He emphasized the collective power of survivors/thrivers to advocate for better care and support systems.


"Join the revolution. It's one of those things where it's not a competition. We're all on the same team. And the more of us, the better, the more people that are out there screaming that there is inequity, that there is disparity, that there is unfairness, and there is broken systems that is basically standing in the way of good and equitable care."


Get Involved


CROC is a cancer survivorship organization raising the bar on supporting survivors/thrivers and their families. For those interested in learning more about CROC and The CROC Podcast, visit the CROC website and explore the wealth of resources available. Dr. Eanelli highlighted the importance of staying informed and empowered to navigate the cancer journey.

Listen to the full episode to hear heartfelt stories and gain valuable guidance to help you or a loved one on your journey.

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Reflection: Do you agree with Dr. Eanelli's perspective? Why or why not?

Other Episodes You'll Enjoy:

Understanding Radiation Therapy and the Power of Empathy in Patient Care,


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