• By Dana Sparks

Helping Others Heal: Taking her own advice

January 9, 2019

Dr. Rozalina McCoy portrait in the Gonda LobbyFor years, Dr. Rozalina McCoy, has counseled patients and colleagues in Mayo Clinic's Division of Community Internal Medicine about avoiding low-value tests and treatments — those that add costs, potential harm and burden for patients, yet have little proven benefit. It's an easy thing to preach, but as Dr. McCoy learned through her own health scare, not so easy to practice.

In 2017, Dr. McCoy was treated for advanced Hodgkin lymphoma. Now in remission, the young mother of two preschool-age children should be reveling in her victory. But instead, as she writes in an essay to her peers published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Dr. McCoy finds herself anxious about no longer being continually monitored by her care team, who recommend not performing routine surveillance scans.

"I was surprised, confused, fearful and even defiant," she writes. "Could I really forgo these tests?"

Dr. McCoy's hematologist "argued that routine imaging tests generate false-positive findings, anxiety and high costs without definitive or meaningful survival benefit." It was information Dr. McCoy knew well. She'd presented the same evidence to her own patients, albeit about different diseases and interventions. But now that she'd become a patient herself, Dr. McCoy "could not shake the fear that this reprieve was an illusion." Read the rest of Dr. McCoy's story.