In 2008, Dr. Paul K Raffer noticed a small rash on his arm. It was small and itchy. He scratched the itch and went about his day. However, the rashes and the itchiness did not stop there. It spread throughout his body, and the constant need to scratch did not leave him, even during the wee hours of the night. Imagine every inch of your skin itching without stop, robbing you of sleep and quality of life. For months Raffer did his research even when his colleagues tried to reassure him that what he had is "just a rash." The breakthrough came in 2009 through a friend who is a dermatologist, a dermatopathologist, and an excellent physician from Stanford Cancer Center who helped him find his diagnosis. He had a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer originating in the bone marrow—stage 4. A diagnosis that will sound like a death sentence to most began an extraordinary journey for Raffer. This journey inspired the informative and compelling story in his book, Skin. It is about a doctor named Ken, who, in search of the cure to his life-threatening cancer, also embarks on an unexpected quest to find his birth family. The doctor is offered an experimental stem cell treatment and matches with someone from a stem cell bank overseas. Skin is a story of two families brought together by cancer. The story has many parallels to Raffer's story, and he provides a lot of insight into the condition and the experience. As Ken unravels the mystery of his disease, he also puts together the puzzle that is his origin. This story is for those who are grappling with an almost incurable disease and the emotional roller coaster that comes with it. This makes Skin not only an informative novel that brings the diagnosis and treatment of cancer into the forefront but also an emotional story that welcomes the readers into a personal journey of healing and discovery.
" This was a very complex roller coaster of a story. Very enjoyable! "
— Jon Pollock, Amazon Reader's Review
This is the first novel by Paul Raffer, MD, a neurologist from Chula Vista, Calif., who, like the protagonist in this book, was adopted in New York City and grew up on a chicken farm on the Jersey shore. He attended Franklin and Marshall College, where he played football and acted in the Green Room Theatre. He attended The New Jersey Medical School in Newark and received the Faculty Award at graduation for outstanding contributions to the school. He interned at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco, where he met and married his wife Donna, and they moved to San Diego for neurology training at UCSD, where he was Chief Resident. Raffer had a solo private practice of neurology for 32 years until he got cancer and sold the practice. Raffer and Donna have four daughters and three grandchildren. After his treatment, he has returned to work part-time as a Neurologist and medical-legal expert. He plays golf and tennis and loves sports and music. He is especially fond of red wine and is known to sing at the Godfather Restaurant in San Diego after a few glasses.