Lawyers Battling Cancer Can Access Many Resources to Help Them Continue Working

The Daily Record (Baltimore, MD)
November 5, 2004 Friday
SECTION: NEWS

LENGTH: 1688 words

HEADLINE: Lawyers battling cancer can access many resources to help them continue working

BYLINE: Alisa Bralove

BODY:

As Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist began chemotherapy and radiation treatment for thyroid cancer earlier this week, Baltimore attorney Arthur Alperstein already had a pretty good idea of what the top jurist could expect: a lot of fatigue, but also a lot of support.

Diagnosed with prostate cancer in June, Alperstein heads over to the Johns Hopkins Hospital every weekday at 10:45 a.m. for radiation treatment. He's been doing this for the past 39 days, all without missing a day of work.

"I haven't lost any practice. I haven't taken off any days," said Alperstein, 64, proudly noting that he is scheduled to finish his treatment next week.

It was lymphoma that caught attorney Ronald V. Miller Jr. off guard, first at the beginning of his senior year at Loyola College and then once again, during his first semester of law school.

The first time, at the suggestion of his doctors, he left school to undergo seven months of daily radiation therapy. When the cancer returned a second time, just after he applied to the University of Baltimore School of Law, Miller said he decided to stay in school through the chemotherapy treatments.

"I [left] once before and I'm not going to do it again," he said. "Over their recommendations, I ended up staying for my first year. I was mad about the fact that I allowed them to play with my school."

Miller even had to take his May exams early in order to make it in time for his final chemotherapy session. But he was glad he stayed; he finished first in his class that year.

"My goal the first year of law school was just to get C's, to scrape by" I got straight A's my first semester," he said. "I think you have a heightened sense of concentration when your time is limited."

Help at hand

According to Carol P. Waldhauser, assistant director of the Maryland State Bar Association's Lawyer Assistance Program, it isn't unusual for lawyers diagnosed with a serious disease to keep working whenever possible because it helps to maintain a sense of normalcy.

The Lawyer Assistance Program offers free and confidential support to lawyers battling cancer or other major diseases, she said.

"So many people think [the Lawyer Assistance Program] is only about drugs and alcohol but it's not. It's a message that we try desperately to get out," she said. "It's both practical support and emotional support."

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