Physician and Former Cancer Patient Discuss Total Patient Care Treatment

A former cancer patient, his wife, and their family doctor yesterday discussed their relationship, which they called "mutually gratifying" and a model in patient-doctor communication and understanding.

John B. Bennet, lecturer on Business Administration, his wife Faye A. Bennet, and Dr. Stanley E. Sagov, assistant physician to the University Health Services at the Business School, told a Cambridge Forum audience of the hardships cancer patients and their relatives must go through.

Bennet in the fall of 1972 was diagnosed as having cancer of the throat. For four months he underwent cobalt radiation treatments at the Massachusetts General Hospital. In February 1973 Bennet's doctors discovered that his tumor had been arrested.

Bennet praised Sagov's work, saying, "Stanley was the only doctor that saw me as a human being and not as a walking cancer."

Sagov was the "general contractor" who coordinated all aspects of the medical care.


Bennet also said that Sagov was frank and available, and cared for him as a total person. "He gave us the feeling that he was available any time of the day and night," he said.

Faye Bennet said that when her husband and she became aware of the illness, they decided to accept its unpleasant nature without trying to escape its implications. "My wife gave me strength, comfort and above all she gave me love," said Bennet.

Sagov described Bennet as an active inquisitive and observant patient. "Patients have been encouraged to think that doctors cannot make diagnoses without their participation," he said.

"Many things in a physician's life are painful; doctors are fundamentally unhappy," Sagov said, because they are expected to be more than human. "Medicine is still an imprecise science," said Sagov, "and relations between human beings should not change when the doctor is dispensing medical expertise."