Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sharing the Patient Experience: David Oliver and Choosing Hospice

by Mariah Dewsnap-Dreisinger

Today I want to take a moment to recognize Dr. David Oliver. Some of you may have read the Pallimed post from June 2013, which introduced Dr. Oliver and his wife Dr. Debbie Parker-Oliver, both professors and researchers at the University of Missouri. Throughout their careers both David and Debbie have made several important contributions to the field of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

But perhaps one of the bravest contributions David has made to this field has been through his own journey with cancer. In 2012, David was diagnosed with stage 4 nasopharyngeal cancer, and like the true educator that he is, he has continued to share his experiences every step of the way. He has done so through a video blog with entries marking important decisions and turning points in his illness. The beauty in David’s story lies in his willingness to be vulnerable and to share things about his illness that many people are afraid to discuss. He keeps no secrets and because of that he has empowered countless patients, caregivers and medical providers to be equally open and brave.

On October 5th, David posted an important video blog: "Hospice: Its Time."  He talks about his decision to go on hospice and his recognition that the end is near. It is perhaps one of the most important posts he has made and the message is in keeping with the authentic and wonderful person that David is.


It was just recently announced that David and Debbie will both receive the AAHPM PDIA Palliative Medicine Community Leadership Award at the 2015 AAHPM / HPNA Annual Assembly on Thursday, February 26th. David has also written a book about his experiences titled Exit Strategy: Depriving Death of Its Strangeness, which can be found online at on Nook, iTunes or multiple formats at Smashwords for $4.99.

Mariah Dewsnap-Dreisinger is a recent graduate of medical school from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she had the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Oliver on several projects. Her favorite recent memory with him was getting him on the dance floor for a couple of minutes at her wedding celebration in May 2014. She is completing a one-year post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and will be entering a primary care residency in 2015 with the goal of pursuing a career in Geriatrics and Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

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