Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"50/50" Why We Fight

I just watched the movie 50/50 during a trainer ride. Disclaimer: I love Seth Rogen. "Knocked Up" is still one of the funniest movies EVER to me (I think because it came out after the birth of my second child and many moments resonated). "50/50" did not disappoint. It can't be easy to make a movie about cancer that makes you laugh, but it did. Humor aside, there were two things that struck me...

#1- Anyone entering (or already in) the medical profession should watch this movie. I would like to think that I am a good communicator, and explain things well to my patients. Watching this movie from the patient perspective (the physician blurting out a diagnosis using huge medical terms, not looking his patient in the eye, not providing support, a novice therapist in a teaching hospital) reminded me that some of the most skilled practitioners are crappy communicators. When I worked in cardiac surgery, the best surgeon had the worst bedside manor. I would have wanted him as my own surgeon if I ever needed it, but I can see as a patient/family member with no point of reference, this guy was an ass (plain and simple).

We ask our patients every day to trust us with situations that are potentially life or death, but we don't always consider the gravity of these conversations. We don't have time, we aren't good communicators, the patient or family is "difficult". Even the temperature in the physician's office, as you are waiting to find out if your chemo treatments worked, took on gravity in this film. (I was focused on the nurse's reaction at this point). So I think this should be required viewing for new med students, nursing students, pretty much anyone who works with patients. We can ALWAYS do better.

#2- Without saying it, this movie highlights the value of the cancer navigator role. What do cancer navigators do? Pretty much what it sounds like. They help a cancer patient navigate the system. They are an advocate, an ally, someone who is perhaps more aware of the resources available, and most importantly help an individual become a more educated advocate for themselves. Here is the goal of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults navigator program.

To improve the ability of young adults to manage their own cancer experiences and long-term cancer survival through:
  • access to support resources tailored specifically to young adults;
  • increased knowledge of their disease, treatment options and lifelong implications of treatment choices; and
  • effective communication with their medical care team
This is why Rev3 staff and Team Rev3 members are participating in the Run Across America. To raise $100K to support the navigation program at the Ulman Cancer Fund. So check out the Ulman Website, consider making a donation, and watch the movie.

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