publication date: Jul. 6, 2018

Conversation with The Cancer Letter How the Rabson “practice” helped more than 14,000 patients in 55 years AlRabson

Alan Rabson

In 2010, Otis Brawley and I were in the midst of writing a book about the state of cancer care in America.

As we were splitting up the work, I lucked out. It fell to me to call Al Rabson, then still active as NCI deputy director. I wanted to reconstruct the history of what he referred to as his “practice.”

Of course, Rabson, a pathologist, wasn’t moonlighting. But he did guide thousands of patients through the challenges of cancer.

Anyone—literally anyone—could ask Rabson for advice and a referral anywhere in the U.S., and he would interrupt whatever he was doing and try to help.

In the book, “How We Do Harm; a Doctor Breaks Ranks on Being Sick in America,” we wanted to show that decades before the term “navigator” became a part of the lexicon of oncology, Rabson was guiding patients through health systems and academic medicine.

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