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Medical Minute: Life and Death Decisions

If the deadly bird flu reaches America, would you choose to get a risky vaccine that could possibly kill you, or face the risk of dying in an epidemic? Thousands of people face tough medical decisions every day.

Michelle Kingsfield, a cancer patient, said, "I remember the exact words was: 'I have some really bad news.’ You have a rapidly expanding large cell lymphoma. You need chemotherapy right away.'"

Four months pregnant, Michelle faced the ultimate decision, chemo, surgery, medication. Which to choose? Chemo could save her life, but kill her unborn baby.

Brian Zikmund-Fisher, PhD, Psychologist, said, "There's a lot of emotions that are wrapped into medical decisions, a lot of fear."

Dr. Brian Zikmund-Fisher knows that kind of fear. As his little girl turned one he made a life and death decision.

Dr. Zikmund-Fisher was later inspired to ask thousands of people what they would do if their own life was at risk. Would they take the bird flu vaccine?

Forty eight percent said they would risk it. But when they looked at it from the doctor's point of view, 63 percent said they would recommend the vaccine to the patient, proving it's hard for people to see the big picture when they're putting their own life at risk.

Brian Zikmund-Fisher said, "Take a step back and ask yourself if it wasn't you who was sick, what would you recommend to them?"

Take a look at that bird flu question again. This time, look at it from your doctor's point of view. Sid your answers change? Michelle's answer was chemo.

Her son is happy and healthy and she is cancer-free.

For more information, contact:

Krista Hopson
Ann Aror, MI
(734) 764-2220


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