More than half the patients who walk through the doors of Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) describe their pain as uncontrolled. That level of pain has an impact that extends far beyond their physical well-being, says Dr. Nathan Neufeld, Medical Director of Pain Services and Supportive Therapies, and Interventional Pain Management Specialist at CTCA® in Newnan, Georgia.
“One of my patients told me if he wasn’t in so much pain he wouldn’t even feel like he had cancer,” Neufeld says. Before his treatment here, he said, ‘I was not willing to fight because of the pain. I had decided it wasn’t worth it. Now I have a new desire to fight and strive and hope.’ Pain’s impact on psychological well-being is profound, and what we offer is support that allows patients to truly focus on getting better.”
Neufeld’s experience with his mother’s pain management struggle at the end of her life inspired his career. “My mom had breast cancer 15 years ago, and she lived in a rural part of the country. At that time and place, pain management services didn’t exist. At the end, she barely knew who I was. Her pain was controlled but she was sedated.”
When he connected with CTCA and was offered the chance to spend his days providing oncology patients with the kind of supportive interventions his mother never received and offering families the chance to stay connected with their loved ones, he jumped at the opportunity.
Day-to-day, Neufeld splits his time between the operating room and the clinic. His techniques are specifically tailored to each patient and often involve injections or surgery to address the nerves responsible for the pain.
He loves what he does. “I get to wake up and go to work helping patients who truly need help. Also, I have never worked with so many passionate, dedicated and quality people,” he says.
In addition to working with patients, Neufeld has teamed up with Dr. Vivek Iyer, Interventional Pain Management Specialist at CTCA in Arizona, to spearhead research around genomic testing for pain treatment. “It’s an underdeveloped field, and I think it’s one in which we can have an incredible impact.”
If it sounds like Neufeld is busy at work, well, he’s even busier at home. The father of five—four boys and a girl—is very invested in his local church. “That’s relevant for who I am in my DNA,” he says.
He and his wife, Stephanie, recently traveled to Honduras to help with the planning of a hospital in an orphanage. They also are getting ready to welcome another child into their family. Soon, they will be adopting Erika, a 3-year-old with special needs from Honduras who will be receiving heart surgery.
A love of family—the one he’s built with Stephanie, and the mother he lost—influences what he does at work every day. “The coolest part about my job is that I can help people deal with pain without taking away their ability to engage with family,” he says.
5 Fun Facts
1. What’s the best vacation you ever took?
When Dr. Nathan Neufeld and his wife, Stephanie, lived in Las Vegas during graduate school, they traveled often to Zion National Park in Utah. He says he spent the best times there bonding with her, his best friend.
2. What are you reading?
Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. “I grew up with brothers,” Neufeld says, “so I feel like I lack knowledge about girls!” He also keeps up with medical journals.
3. What’s your favorite meal?
“Anything my wife makes,” Neufeld says.
4. How do you unwind?
“I play fantasy football. We have Auburn football season tickets, and we go to almost every home game with the kids and my wife’s family,” he says. The couple also own a vineyard with nearly 100 vines—not to mention 70 chickens and ducks.
5. What’s your favorite kind of music?
Self-described as “super-eclectic,” Neufeld listens to praise and worship music and loves techno with heavy drums and deep base.