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Patient Praises Dr. David Sugarbaker as “The Man” at the International Mesothelioma Program

by Gary Galiher, Attorney

Dr. David Sugarbaker is a mere mortal, but to hear his patients talk about him, you might conclude otherwise.  Dr. Sugarbaker is the director and founder of the International Mesothelioma Program (IMP), a unique program at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston that is dedicated to the treatment and ultimately finding a cure for mesothelioma, a devastating cancer in the lining of the lungs or abdomen.

Many patients find their way to Dr. Sugarbaker and his team at the International Mesothelioma Program after being given a grim prognosis by their own doctor.  But Dr. Sugarbaker has designed a unique program that offers state-of-the-art treatment with the goal of improving and extending patients’ lives.  The real goal, however, is to find a cure for mesothelioma.  Dr. Sugarbaker gives his patients hope where others had given none.  It is no surprise that so many of his patients revere him, and it is no wonder that one of our clients who was recently operated on by Dr. Sugarbaker simply calls him “The Man.”

Patients Hold Dr. Sugarbaker in Highest Esteem

Our client went to the International Mesothelioma Program after hearing from his own doctors that Dr. Sugarbaker offered the best treatment available.  Our client told his friends that it was not until he spoke to a doctor at the IMP that he heard the word “survivability” in relation to his cancer.  Dr. Sugarbaker’s treatment offers hope to patients like our client who had been given very stark and grim news about his condition.

Once at the International Mesothelioma Program, our client met Dr. Sugarbaker who evaluated his case to determine if he was a candidate for the cutting edge surgical treatment protocol that Dr. Sugarbaker himself has pioneered.  After many tests and consultations, Dr. Sugarbaker concluded surgery was the appropriate treatment for our client.  Our client told his friends that he met “The Man, the program’s director, Dr. David Sugarbaker ” and went on to add…”and by the way HE IS THE WORLD’S  BEST” – his own emphasis.  Our client underwent surgery just a few weeks ago and is recovering with a degree of hope that did not exist when he first learned of his mesothelioma diagnosis.  It is easy to see why he considers Dr. Sugarbaker “The Man.”

Who Is Dr. David Sugarbaker?

David Sugarbaker is a surgeon and the Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.  In the early 1980s, this hospital began seeing a significant number of mesothelioma cases that were developing decades after patients had been exposed to asbestos.  Given the extensive use of asbestos in the shipbuilding industry which at one time employed thousands in the New England area, it was understandable why there was a high incidence of this cancer in New England.  Dr. Sugarbaker brought the treatment of mesothelioma to the forefront of the Thoracic Surgery Division once he became its Chief.  Under his direction, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital began to develop an expertise in the surgical treatment and chemotherapy protocols related to this disease.

As the number of mesothelioma patients coming to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital continued to increase, the number of doctors and staff dedicated to the treatment of this disease also began to grow.  In 2002, Dr. Sugarbaker had the initiative to set up a multidisciplinary program dedicated solely to mesothelioma.  The International Mesothelioma Program was born.

The International Mesothelioma Program

There is no doubt that the International Mesothelioma Program is Dr. Sugarbaker’s “baby.”  Not only has he been key in the development of the IMP’s surgical treatment options and cutting edge chemotherapy protocols, but his vision and strategic partnering has allowed the program to expand to includes doctors and researchers from across the field of medicine, all focused on finding better treatment options and ultimately a cure for mesothelioma.

Dr.  Sugarbaker’s vision for his program included not only state-of-the-art treatment, but also an environment where patients and their families receive the supportive care needed for those facing a disease like mesothelioma.  The support team that Dr. Sugarbaker has brought together includes a social worker and two chaplains who explain the array of services available to the patients and their families and help them through the process from the introductory patient orientation meeting to the day the patient heads back home.  Soon our client will be heading back home, having benefited from the vision, commitment and dedication of  “The Man.”