Day in the Life: Mesothelioma Specialist Dr. Jacques Fontaine

Jacques Fontaine, Moffitt Cancer Center

Every day, The Mesothelioma Center’s Medical Outreach Team works to build relationships with mesothelioma specialists across the U.S.

It's because of these relationships that medical outreach team members Missy Edmunds and José Ortiz connect patients with the best mesothelioma doctors.

Recently, Dr. Jacques Fontaine, a thoracic surgeon and mesothelioma specialist at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, invited our Medical Outreach Team and me, the social media specialist at Asbestos.com, to shadow him for two days at Moffitt's Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center.

The purpose of our trip: Share that unique experience with mesothelioma patients and their loved ones who contact us every day through Facebook or by calling the Patient Advocates at The Mesothelioma Center.

Day One: Clinic Duty

Dr. Fontaine talks about his background and role at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida.

On the first day, Fontaine had at least 20 appointments with patients and loved ones.

Before every patient, he thoroughly reviewed their charts, checked any test results and discussed specifics with the rest of his team at the hospital. That’s one of the benefits of a multidisciplinary medical team: You are getting the best care by having a specialist for each aspect of your treatment.

Patients — men and women — asked Fontaine specific questions about their mesothelioma diagnosis:

  • What are my options?
  • Would chemotherapy help me?
  • Am I a surgical candidate?
  • Will surgery improve my prognosis?
  • What about my quality of life?

Between appointments, Fontaine rushed to another floor to check on the patients he operated on earlier in the week. As a busy surgeon, he not only balances surgeries but also patient follow-ups and his duties with the hospital’s various medical boards.

Day Two: Surgery

On the second day of our trip, Fontaine offered us a medical preceptorship, which is when a practicing medical doctor volunteers to provide his students personal training and supervision. As part of that instruction, we had the rare opportunity to sit in on a surgery.

For six hours, Fontaine was focused and driven. He was dedicated to assuring everything went according to plan.

Between multiple nurses, an anesthesiologist, a nurse anesthetist and a resident surgeon, the patient was certainly in good hands.

For two days, Fontaine allowed three ordinary people with no medical training to experience life through the eyes, ears and hands of a top mesothelioma surgeon.


Cara joined The Mesothelioma Center as Social Media Specialist in July 2015 to continue her mission of making a difference in world. Every day, Cara speaks with survivors, caregivers and their loved ones in the online mesothelioma community to answer questions and offer emotional support. If you have a story idea for Cara or you'd like to learn more about social media, please email her at ctompot@asbestos.com.

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