BackTable / ENT / Podcast / Episode #102
When Providers Become Patients: Testicular Cancer and Beyond
with Dr. William Flanary aka Dr. Glaucomflecken
In this episode of BackTable, Dr. Bagrodia interviews Dr. William Flanary, a physician-comedian popularly known as Dr. Glaucomflecken, about lessons he has learned as a two-time testicular cancer survivor and the importance of humor in medicine.
BackTable, LLC (Producer). (2023, April 5). Ep. 102 – When Providers Become Patients: Testicular Cancer and Beyond [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.backtable.com
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Dr. William Flanary (Dr. Glaucomflecken)
Dr. William Flanary (Dr. Glaucomflecken) is an ophthalmologist in Portland, Oregon and a comedian.
Dr. Aditya Bagrodia
Dr. Aditya Bagrodia is an associate professor of urology and genitourinary oncology team leader at UC San Diego Health in California and adjunct professor of urology at UT Southwestern.
First, Dr. Glaucomflecken shares about his first diagnosis of testicular cancer. During his third year of medical school he felt a lump in his testicle, which led to a quick workup, diagnosis, and a full orchiectomy. The diagnosis was emotionally difficult, as he was in his mid-twenties and healthy. He returned to comedy, a skill he had developed in high school and college, to cope with his diagnosis. This time, however, he started to practice medical-based comedy with his new experiences as a medical student. He recounts other discussions he had about his cancer, such as fertility, the possibility of chemotherapy, and active surveillance.
Four years after his first orchiectomy, he received his second diagnosis of testicular cancer during his last year of residency. He recounts feeling distraught and overwhelmed, as questions about fertility, hormone replacement, medical expenses, and postponing residency became more serious. He decided to have a full orchiectomy and testosterone replacement therapy, which solved his issues with fatigue and irritability. Additionally, his wife got him involved in testicular cancer support groups and foundations, including one called First Descents, an organization that encourages young adults with cancer to explore the outdoors. He notes that young patients are often overlooked in cancer support groups and encourages cancer patients to find their support networks outside of friends and family as well.
Then, Dr. Flanary discusses his experience with suffering from cardiac arrest in 2020, which led to his wife doing ten minutes of chest compressions to keep him alive. He reflects on this event and concludes that it taught him how to be a better physician to his patients by making sure he involves patients’ families and encouraging him to address medical insurance issues directly.
Finally, Dr. Flanary discusses how he uses humor to advocate and educate patients on social media. He notes that comedy can stimulate conversation and debate and encourages physicians to have social media presence.
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