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Constraints imposed by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have changed every part of my life, but disruption of human connection with patients has been the most unsettling to me. Over 15 years as a gastrointestinal medical oncologist, I have learned from patients how to help them through terminal disease, attended workshops on how to speak about the end of life, and strived to share in patients’ grief without losing myself. But I find myself wholly unprepared to speak of death and dying across cell phones or video links with unreliable connections. I have not yet figured out how to help guide patients’ struggles with cancer—leading them toward a death with dignity and finding personal reward in our relationship—when I cannot see them, hug them, or see their love for each other. What does it take to find balance and connection in virtual oncology?
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Sanoff HK. Managing Grief, Loss, and Connection in Oncology—What COVID-19 Has Taken. JAMA Oncol. Published online July 23, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.2839
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