Due to personal health issues, Dr. Stritter is no longer taking new cases.
My name is Dr. Gwendolyn “Gwen” Stritter. Several people have I consulted with have asked for this website because they have a difficult time explaining to their family and friends what it is exactly that I do. So, this site will introduce folks to the concept of clinical advocacy.
So, what is a clinical advocate anyway?
As my mentor, Dr. Mark Renneker, puts it: a clinical advocate is a person who does all those things for you that doctors do for themselves or their loved ones when faced with a serious or life-threatening illness. You can also think of me as a physician who loves to work as a personal medical navigator.
A clinical advocate does everything from case-intensive research to helping find the right medical team to helping navigate complex medical decisions. In my case, it is a telephone-based practice so I have worked on cases literally all over the world.
Here’s an example of how I work. This case involved a 55-year-old man who was found to have squamous cell cancer of the back of the tongue with metastases to the neck and lung. His oncologist (a well-known doctor in a large city) recommended treatment with the standard chemotherapy regimen that had a 30% – 40% rate of partial or complete remission. The patient wanted to know if more effective treatments were available.
This man contacted me around the time of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists’ annual conference. While I was there, I specifically researched this case. Happily, a breakthrough was reported at the conference: a new type of targeted therapy, EGFR inhibition, doubled the percentage of partial and complete remissions in this kind of cancer when added to the chemotherapy. The oncologist, when presented this information, was very uncomfortable with the newness of the protocol and convinced the man to proceed with the standard chemotherapy. Within six weeks, he landed in the intensive care unit, near death as the cancer had progressed dramatically. The oncologist then told him that there was nothing more to offer and that he should just accept having only a few weeks to live. I was able to find another oncologist who was comfortable with adding an EGFR inhibitor to the treatment plan. Soon thereafter, the man went into a partial remission. He went on to have an additional 13 months of quality life instead of the few weeks predicted by his original oncologist.
You can see more case examples here.