According to Dr. Puyat, her goal as a physician has always been to find and provide to patients the tools and therapies that produce the greater good.
“It’s not enough that we wait for patients to get sick and then give them drugs or do surgery on them. The high rates of chronic, fatal diseases are proof that this approach is not working as well as it should be,” she said.
This is where preventive and anti-aging medicine holds promise and hope for doctors and patients. If doctors provide patients with therapies that prevent or at least limit the occurrence of illnesses, then patients are saved the cost of having not only spend on expensive medicines and surgery, but end up with a better quality of life as well.
“More importantly, we are providing the education and means to achieve good health and a high quality of life from youth to middle-age to old age. For those with chronic illnesses,
you will notice that even if drugs or surgery keep the disease in check, their quality of life is diminished. They feel weak, show signs of old age, or generally don’t enjoy life like they used to – that does not produce the greater good for the patient,” she said.
Improving a patient’s quality of life is of primary importance for Dr. Puyat. Her experience with her father, who died of cancer, shaped her view regarding this.
While Dr. Puyat was still a medical student, her father, who was a physician as well, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes. After conventional chemotherapy and radiation, the cancer went into remission. Later on however, her father’s cancer returned and he died from it.
“My father went through the standard treatments for his cancer and I saw how it ravaged his body. Was it worth it? All of the chemotherapy could not cure him and it only added to his suffering and physical deterioration.” Said Dr. Puyat, adding that towards the end, her father had to stop his chemotherapy as it was killing him faster than the cancer. She began exploring alternative therapies, and improve enough to enjoy his remaining time with a much better quality of life. “He was at least able to attend to his family, his affairs, and see his friends at church; he died at peace with God when he wanted to…”
This made Dr. Puyat realize that treating patients is not just about curing disease but about helping them improve their situation, and overall happiness, no matter the circumtances.
“Looking back, I realize that when my father stopped his chemotherapy, there was a big improvement in his life. He was so happy. We travelled and spent time together. He tried many types of alternative treatments that did not cure him, but at least restored his functioning enough so he could still live fully for a little more time,” she said.
Dr. Puyat explained that by doing a thorough evaluation of each patient, preventive medicine can even spot potential diseases that a patient may develop. For example, she does laboratory testing to screen for significantly elevated cancer markers; finding such, she does further diagnostic tests to rule out any chance of cancer.
"When we find such cancer markers, we do these further diagnostics and immediately design a custom set of treatments to help reduce the risk. This same principle applies to other potential diseases as well.” She said.