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When Patients Are Empowered By Serious Diagnoses

I am really excited about serving as the emcee for next week’s Personalized Medicine World Conference in Mountain View, California near San Francisco. I also will be the moderator of a panel discussion on patient empowerment. As I prepare, I am interviewing the panelists and their stories are very inspiring.

One panelist is Bonnie Addario. Bonnie had been an oil company executive in the Bay Area. She began having chest pain. Was it her heart? No. Was it a nerve problem? No. Doctors were stumped. Bonnie was frustrated, but she was also a woman of action — a “powerful patient.” She went on her own for a full body scan. The news was not good. A lung cancer tumor was wrapped around her aorta and other vessels. It was inoperable. But, fortunately, chemotherapy and radiation shrunk the tumor and loosened the stranglehold it had on her blood vessels. Surgery was then possible. It took 17 hours and she even had more radiation before she left the operating room.

Bonnie’s life was saved. But what then? She was a changed woman who wanted to do more to advance care in lung cancer. She organized a conference, first to help UCSF, where she was treated, but it immediately became clear it should be bigger. Bonnie found herself forming the Lung Cancer Foundation. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Breaking Oncology News: Can It Spread Socially?

I [recently] received a press release from a friend in the Bay Area. Investigators at UCSF have published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that less chemotherapy can be effective at treating some childhood cancers.

The paper was the result of an eight-year clinical study in children with neuroblastoma. In this particular population, researchers were able to reduce chemotherapy exposure by 40 percent while maintaining a 90 percent survival rate. You can read about it here.

The press release sparked a brief email exchange between me and my friend: Who might be interested in writing about this study and is there any way to get it to spread?  What would make it sticky in the eyes of the public?

Here are a few ideas:

Figure out who cares. Sure it’s niche news, but there are people who would think this is pretty darn important. Think organizations centered on parents of children with cancer, adult survivors of childhood cancer, pediatric hematology-oncology physicians, pediatricians and allied professionals in pediatric medicine like nurse practitioners and hematology-oncology nurses. Networks form around these groups. Find them and seed them.

Make a video. Offer powerful, visual content beyond a press release. A four-minute clip with the principal investigator, Dr. Matthay, would be simple and offer dimension to what is now something restricted to print. The Mayo Clinic has done this really well. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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