In Dallas, driving home from the hospital 5 days after the hurricane, a string of buses longer than the eye could see was “parked” on the downtown freeway exchange, waiting to release the displaced souls to our convention-center-turned-relief-center. One million people have left the coast. At this writing, it is estimated that it will be months before they can return.
Her elderly father was a cancer patient who had been evacuated from New Orleans to Louisville, Kentucky, because of the hurricane. He needed care—and she needed help. Wendy Stokes, an ASCO staff member, took the young woman by the hand, made some calls, found a source of care for the woman’s father, and connected the two.
After the hurricane, the entire local health care system ceased to function. Among the displaced were the many patients who were receiving therapy for their cancer. Oncology patients bear a special burden. Many are receiving therapies that will save or extend their lives. The timeliness of therapy has been stressed to them. The need for close follow-up to monitor for toxicity has been underlined, yet in Katrina’s aftermath, both patients and their oncologists were displaced.