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Cross-specialty team treats rare cancer


A dermatologist and oncologist worked together to give Mike Murphy relief from a rare cancer after years of intense pain.

Mike Murphy’s story

SkinSerious patient story, Mike Murphy
Mike Murphy
For a decade, I lived with a burning rash and intense itching that kept me up all night in pain. Sometimes the pain would flare-up to the point where it was unbearable to move. My legs became so swollen I could barely walk, and my skin separated and cracked.

After years of topical treatments that worked temporarily, a biopsy uncovered lymphoma. The physician I was seeing at the time referred me to dermatologist Dr. Lindsay Strowd, who added hematologist/oncologist Dr. Zanetta Lamar to my team. Together they diagnosed me with a rare and aggressive form of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma called Sézary syndrome, which starts in the white blood cells and attacks the skin. There are only a few thousand people in America with this cancer, and I just happen to be one of them.

The physicians formulated a plan to treat the cancer and bring me relief. Dr. Lamar gives me infusions that are making all the difference and watching how my doctors work closely together makes me hopeful that my condition will continue to improve. I spent so many years in pain, and I’m grateful that they worked together and figured out how to treat this incredibly rare disease. If it wasn’t for my local physicians who uncovered my diagnosis, and Dr. Strowd and Dr. Lamar who helped me find relief, I don’t know if I would have ever gotten the help I needed. I can honestly say they changed my life.

The dermatologist's perspective

SkinSerious story dermatologist, - Lindsay Strowd, MD, FAAD

“As professionals, our goal is to give our patients the quality of life they deserve. Collaboration is especially important for rare conditions like Sézary syndrome that cross multiple specialties. Once we diagnosed Mike, Dr. Lamar and I quickly started him on an appropriate treatment plan to reduce his symptoms. It’s rewarding to help give him some relief.”

─ Lindsay Strowd, MD, FAAD, Dermatologist at Wake Forest Baptist Health

The oncologist's perspective

SkinSerious story oncologist, Zanetta S. Lamar, MD

“Sézary syndrome is debilitating, and when I met Mike, he told me he was desperate. Dr. Strowd and I are experts in different pieces of the puzzle, so we collaborate closely to tailor his treatment plan and reduce his symptoms. His condition has already improved significantly, and I hope we can continue that progress.”

─ Zanetta S. Lamar, MD, Assistant Professor of Hematology and Oncology at Wake Forest Baptist Health

Related AAD resources


Patient & physician stories

Learn how board-certified dermatologists have helped patients with serious skin disease and collaborated with other doctors to enhance patient care.

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