My Toughest Case: Dr. Jason Shumadine
Hearing the words “you have cancer” is terrifying for anyone. While the dreaded disease still kills thousands yearly, doctors have become better than ever at treating it. One of the primary treatment options for many cancer patients is radiation, and that’s what radiation oncologist Dr. Jason Shumadine specializes in at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette.
The 40-year-old Shumadine has been practicing since 2009. He was attracted to the field because he wanted to do complex work that could tangibly help people with serious illnesses. The precise nature of the treatments also appealed to him. Doctors have to know how much radiation to give in how big of an area as well as be aware of the treatment’s proximity to vital organs.
While Dr. Shumadine has been able to help many patients over the course of his career, a few stand out. The 18-year-old daughter of a fellow doctor had thyroid cancer. After an operation, it was determined that she had it in her lymph nodes. Her initial doctor also diagnosed her with cancer in her lungs. This doctor told her she should not take radioactive iodine, but when the girl’s father spoke with
Dr. Shumadine, he recommended she take it. Other doctors were consulted, and they also agreed with Dr. Shumadine.
The girl took the iodine. It served two purposes. It removed the remaining cancer spots in her neck and thyroid area and the radiation from the iodine also made it easier to scan the rest of her body for cancer. During a subsequent scan, they saw that the previous diagnosis was mistaken. The young woman did not have cancer in her lungs.
Another memorable patient was a man in his 70s Dr. Shumadine had treated for stage three prostate cancer. A few years after those treatments, the cancer returned in multiple places. After some unsuccessful chemo treatments, Dr. Shumadine gave the man palliative radiation. The treatments did not cure the cancer, but they significantly reduced the size of the tumors. The patient had been told after his chemo that he would only live for a few months. But with the palliative radiation, he was able to live almost another three years. In that time, the patient was able to attend his grandchildren’s graduations and do a few other things he had always dreamed of doing.
Aside from his passion for medicine and his patients, Dr. Shumadine loves cars. He used to race them, but he stopped recently. Now, his time outside of his practice is occupied mostly by his wife and three children (ages 8, 6, and 5).
TIPS FROM DR. SHUMADINE
Remember that radiation technology has progressed in leaps and bounds in recent decades. While radiation used to blanket areas of the body, it is now much more targeted and precise, providing better results and fewer side effects.
Sometimes, doctors will ask patients to take radiation after the patient has already undergone potentially grueling chemo treatments. Some patients will not want the radiation after the chemo. But, as Dr. Shumadine says, “You can’t run a race 2/3 of the way then stop.”
Don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion. As the case of Dr. Shumadine’s teenage patient illustrates, doctors are human. The first one you see may not be right.