Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation, developed the podcast series Your Stories: Conquering Cancer to showcase unscripted conversations between patients, doctors, and the family and friends who conquer cancer with them.
During the first week of his fellowship, Mark Lewis, MD, diagnosed himself with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), a rare inherited condition associated with tumors of the endocrine glands, which produce hormones. In the Your Stories episode, “From Every Angle,” Dr. Lewis speaks with fellow oncologist, Jonathan Bleeker, MD, about how the roles he’s played as doctor, patient, and advocate have helped him navigate caring for people with cancer. It’s a story about helping patients find their voice, told by a person who can speak from multiple perspectives.
Losing a loved one
Dr. Lewis will never forget how his father was diagnosed with cancer. His father needed a standard x-ray to immigrate from the United Kingdom to America. An impersonal phone call delivered unexpected results: a mass in his chest.
“This was the case example of how not to break bad news,” says Dr. Lewis, describing the caller’s lack of compassion. He carries the gravity of that moment with him when treating patients, knowing many families face similar challenges.
At 14, his father passed, fueling Dr. Lewis’ dedication to a career in cancer care and patient advocacy.
Vouching for patient voices
Dr. Lewis and Dr. Bleeker empower patients to connect with others in the cancer community.
“There’s been this rise in patients having a voice,” shares Dr. Lewis, attributing much of that growth to social media. He formed a Facebook group for fellow MEN1 patients, finding that social platforms are invaluable for amplifying patient perspectives and experiences.
Dr. Bleeker also believes in a science-based and patient-centered approach to cancer care to enrich the patient-doctor relationship and improve patients’ quality of life. He tells Dr. Lewis how their friendship challenges him to grow.
“I’ve learned a bunch from you as well: what you experienced as a patient, a physician, and an advocate,” Dr. Bleeker says to Dr. Lewis. “This is what it’s all about. It’s working with [and] alongside our patients, and each other, where we learn how to really care.”
Hear more about Dr. Lewis’ story. The Your Stories podcast, from Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation, features candid conversations between family and friends who conquer cancer alongside their loved ones. Subscribe to Your Stories on Apple Podcasts and Google Play today.