Mark Lewis, MD, was 8 years old when his father was diagnosed with cancer. Decades later, he was 1 week into an oncology fellowship when he self-diagnosed his own rare cancer, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1). In the latest Your Stories podcast from Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation, Dr. Lewis shares with fellow oncologist Jonathan Bleeker, MD, how a lifetime conquering cancer shapes his thoughts on what doctors learn from patients and how patients can navigate the ever-changing cancer community.
To emigrate from the United Kingdom to America, Dr. Lewis’ father received a standard x-ray. He recalls the impersonal phone call his father received to learn the scan had revealed a mass.
“There was no sense of urgency, and I carry that with me now, because I know a lot of patients have gotten to my clinic through similar situations,” said Dr. Lewis.
When his father died, Dr. Lewis, then age 14, decided he would become an oncologist. One of the first diagnoses he made was his own.
The Patient Perspective
Connecting to patients and connecting patients to others like them in the cancer community is a key focus for both Dr. Lewis and Dr. Bleeker.
Dr. Lewis formed a Facebook group for fellow patients with MEN1 and believes social media is a valuable tool for patients and doctors.
“My father didn’t live to see e-mail,” said Dr. Lewis, but believes his dad, who was a pastor, would be amazed by how social media allows patients to find emotional healing in the community and create their own platform to advocate for their health.
Science matters, but Dr. Bleeker said the patient perspective carries significant weight.
“It’s very easy not to see that side of the table,” explained Dr. Bleeker, who recognizes physicians must balance patient expectations formed from the growing information available to them.
Listen to the full episode at CONQUER.ORG or on iTunes or Google Play.
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