From an early age, Dr. Blake Marcum has enjoyed learning about and working with animals. While at a summer externship at an aquarium, he started working with the aquarium veterinarian. After spending some time with him at his small animal clinic, he was hooked and decided to become a veterinarian.
How did you become interested in oncology?
I was working in general practice and was treating many patients with cancer. I decided that I wanted to get residency-trained so that I could help these patients. I love building close relationships with clients. Sometimes the relationships with cancer patients can be brief but the emotions and feelings during that time can be very intense. I love being able to reach clients and help find the best options for their pets that prolong survival as much as possible while also ensuring an optimal quality of life.
What is your philosophy of patient care?
As veterinarians, it is our job to be an advocate for the patients. Patient care is based on a relationship between the client, the patient and the referring veterinarian. The care in oncology often involves identifying a treatment route that is effective for the pet; that minimizes the undue potential for side effects; and works for the client from a convenience, economic and emotional standpoint.
What are some of the biggest challenges in your area of expertise?
Words like “cancer” and “chemotherapy” have certain connotations from human medicine. It is important to debunk some of the concerns early on in order for clients to understand that the approach in veterinary medicine is very different. Quality of life for our patients is our number one goal.
What motivates you?
In oncology, we often discuss median survival times for certain diseases or conditions based on the current literature. I am always motivated to try to help my patients stay above the upper 50th percentile of that median.
What do you like to do outside of work?
My family includes my wife, two children, two dogs and three cats. For the most part, they keep me pretty busy outside of work. I enjoy a variety of sports and outdoor activities in my free-time including running, cycling, fishing and basketball. I love running, and I am quickly getting to know the trail system throughout the Northern suburbs.
It was a wonderful experience especially since it was a very scary and emotional time. The Tech’s and the Doctor make you and your dog feel at ease. They explain everything thoroughly so you understand the road ahead and give you hope that we can beat this awful disease. Duke and I left feeling much better about his fight with lymphoma when we left.
It felt as though my dog, Layla, had the most knowledgeable professionals attending to her condition. This gave me great comfort that she would receive excellent treatment and be kept comfortable throughout.