Front-Line Stories

A Reprieve for Cancer Patients: Well-rehearsed in Practicing Social Etiquette to Avoid COVID-19

A Reprieve for Cancer Patients: Well-rehearsed in Practicing Social Etiquette to Avoid COVID-19

Attacking the stubborn predator that resides within cancer patients is Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) alum Joshua Mansour, MD, who treats aggressive cancers including those that have resisted previous treatments. Thankfully, during this unpredictable and grave time in healthcare, many of his patients have not had to endure the plague of COVID-19 sickness on top of their already debilitating conditions.

“Their immune system has already been compromised and they are at a high risk for further infections so they are taking extreme precautions. They are accustomed to washing their hands diligently, staying away from others and not touching their face.” Joshua specializes in hematology and oncology with a subspecialty in bone marrow transplantation and cellular immunotherapy. He practices at a medical center and non-profit cancer research center, both in southern California.

For patients who test positive for novel coronavirus, their treatment must be delayed. “We give them medications that further suppress their immune system so we need to ensure their body is clear of other infections. We will never do something that is going to be more harmful than beneficial.” Even for those proceeding with bone marrow transplants, COVID-19 has added an extra layer of strain and anxiety. “It’s an emotional toll because now family can’t visit before or after the transplant, while they are in the hospital,” he said, adding that a patient typically stays in the hospital one week before and three weeks after the procedure.

Typical Cancer Diagnoses

Joshua receives patient referrals from hematology and oncology doctors and treats varying types of cancer including:

  • Acute leukemia — for a bone marrow transplant
  • Lymphoma — for a bone marrow/stem cell transplant after failed rounds of chemotherapy or for CAR T-cell therapy (a newer immunotherapy on the rise)
  • Multiple myeloma — for possible bone marrow transplant after therapy

“I always want to make a difference and be there when patients are at their very worst struggling with a big monumental disease,” he said about why he chose his specialty. “To be the one to support and treat them and hopefully take them from diagnosis through treatment and then follow up for many years, is what inspires me.”

Always fascinated with medicine, Joshua spent his early years volunteering at hospitals and clinics for an underserved community. He started his career in private wealth management but craved patient interaction. His parents, a family practitioner and neurologist, encouraged their two sons to try other avenues before pursing medicine, which they both did before circling back. “I wasn’t sure if I was ready for this type of lifestyle with many sacrifices. It definitely doesn’t come easy but it is so worth it.”

Luring More Specialists

Years ago, Joshua knew someone affected by cancer and then became enthralled with pathology. He hopes more physicians will enter hematology and oncology because of the elevating needs. “We need to treat this as a more chronic illness. As treatments get better and life expectancies get longer, we need more people to care for these patients.”

A proud graduate of RUSM, Joshua recalls non-believers who discounted his Caribbean-school education. “I couldn’t disagree more. I received top medical training at Ross University; it was competitive and well-rounded,” he said, adding that he further trained at the Medical College of Georgia, Medical University of South Carolina and Stanford.

Recently engaged, Joshua and his event-planning fiancée are searching for a 2021 date and look forward to the days when they can again freely hike, surf and travel.

“This is a tough time for me, my family and for my patients. But like I tell my patients — our ultimate goal is to live happy and fulfilling lives and we need to take it one step at a time.”

Appreciative and Thankful

We appreciate your commitment to the continued well-being of our RUSM community and support during this unprecedented time. Please visit the RUSM website for the latest updates regarding COVID-19.