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Sun owes an apology to oncologist who was sued

Katrina Dennis, an attorney from Owings Mills and a regent for the University System of Maryland, died recently after a battle with breast cancer that caused her to sue her oncologist.
Katrina Dennis, an attorney from Owings Mills and a regent for the University System of Maryland, died recently after a battle with breast cancer that caused her to sue her oncologist. (Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun)

I was deeply saddened by the front page story, “Patient with terminal cancer sues University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center over her care” (August 28), involving Dr. Michael Schultz.

Cancer is still a very serious diagnosis in spite of the advances in treatment options. Cancer is unique and cannot be compared with other diseases like hypertension or diabetes. While the latter are predictable, the former is individual. An oncologist uses statistics and oncogenetic tests to make treatment decisions and predict outcome. However, these objective tools are based on specific groups of cancer patients with common characteristics. The only tool we have to make life and death decisions for an individual patient is personal experience.

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Dr. Schultz is a local doctor with extensive experience in his field. We know how mind and spirit influences well-being. Every doctor should be aware of how important the choice of words are when discussing outcome. In an upcoming conference sponsored by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, one event focuses on “Realistic Hope: Finding the Sweet Spot Between False Hope and False Hopelessness." Dr. Schultz tries hard to find this sweet spot.

It saddens me deeply that another young talented person lost her life to cancer (“Maryland regent, Baltimore lawyer dies of cancer in the middle of medical malpractice trial,” Sept. 1). It also saddens me that The Baltimore Sun made this story front page. Putting this story on the front page is sensationalism. Furthermore, burying the fact that the lawsuit was dismissed in a small article on a back page of the newspaper was unfair to Dr. Schultz and to the public (“Medical malpractice trial for Maryland regent, lawyer dismissed upon her death,” Sept. 3).

In my opinion, The Sun owes Dr. Schultz an apology.

Dr. Peter Hinderberger, Baltimore

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