Precision medicine is a catch-phrase that is all the rage nowadays. It’s becoming clearer that medicine is not one-size-fits-all. For example, a treatment that helps shrink one person’s tumor or eases their arthritis symptoms doesn’t always work for somebody else. This is especially true in cancer, where a patient's experience is more than their genetic features or latest lab values. It’s essential that care providers know each persons “cancer story” to learn the details of their particular disease and experience to provide them with the most personalized and effective treatment.
At a recent blood cancer conference with the American Society of Hematology, three physicians offered their perspective on the intersection of storytelling, writing and medicine. Dr. Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD and Associate Professor, NY University School of Medicine said:
“We often think of patient communication, or ‘bedside manner’ as a kindly after-thought in medicine. Actually the patient-doctor conversation is the single most powerful tool in medicine. Both doctors and patients need to put communication at the top of their expectation list.”
She and Michael Sekeres MD, MS, Director, Leukemia Program at the Cleveland Clinic provided their insight and eachh responded to the following questions:
Why should Doctors care about the narrative in clinical encounters?
What are the challenges that make it difficult for clinicians to engage in narrative medicine?
What is the benefit, for both patient and physician of engaging in narrative medicine?
The Myeloma Crowd’s HealthTree tool helps multiple myeloma patients journal their story as they create a patient profile. HealthTree newest feature allows patients to now include their “myeloma story,” integrating these facts into the context of their life and how it has impacted them. Today the story is for the patient only, but soon we will allow you to share that story with your doctor to help them see the whole picture. When we share our myeloma experience, we can see patterns of what works best for each patient and generate new ideas for a cure. Visit HealthTree.org to learn more.
about the author
Myeloma survivor, patient advocate, wife, mom of 6. Believer that patients can help accelerate a cure by weighing in and participating in clinical research. Founder of HealthTree Foundation (formerly Myeloma Crowd).