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Laugh, Sing, and Eat Like a Pig – e-patient Dave's story

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I’m cutting into that inviting stack of “must-read” books in my office and finally – way too late – got to e-patient Dave (Dave deBronkart’s) “Laugh, Sing and Eat Like a Pig: How an empowered patient beat Stage IV cancer (and what healthcare can learn from it).”

OK, no one ever said Dave was a man of few words.

I’ve had the chance to spend some time with Dave in person on a couple of occasions and have exchanged many emails and Tweets. But I didn’t know him at all compared with how I feel like I know him now after reading his book.

LaughSing-cover-final-1.jpgAs Dave does in his story, I, in reading it swung between laughter, outrage, tears, determination, motivation and other emotions and reactions.

He was also kind enough – deep in the book on page 227 (better late than never) to include plugs for my HealthNewsReview.org project from Dr. Ted Eytan, Gilles Frydman and himself.

I was struck by something his wife said to him in the book: “Perhaps there’s a reason you got sick.” I remember saying something similar to Dave after hearing him captivate a large crowd at the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement colloquium in St. Paul last Spring. Dave writes, “I personally am not in favor of cancer as a means to ANYTHING, but it occurred to me – yeah, if life hands you lemons, why not make lemonade – for everyone?”

I could cite many excerpts but I was particularly moved by the section entitled “What’s It Gonna Take?” in which he wrote:

“I want to get back to where I was when I was sick. Isn’t that weird? But – and I’m not making this up – as I wrote this, in the background there was an episode of the TV show, ‘House,’ about a cranky doctor, and in it, a character was ticked off because his diagnosis of terminal cancer turned out to be false. ‘I’ve never been as present and alive as I was these past few months – and now you took that away from me.’ Yeah, well, you and I know nobody took anything away from him – it’s all in his mind. Mine too. So the question is, what’s it gonna take to be that present all the time, so I actually do what I say? I know from recent experience that I get a lot of joy when it goes the way I said.”

Dave has become a leading voice for empowered patients – for e-patients. Read the book to see how it all came to be. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Comments (4)

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e-Patient Dave

October 1, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I’m humbled and thrilled by your reaction to the book, Gary.
The most important thing, in one sense, is that the book isn’t about how an e-patient faces a problem – I’d never heard of e-patient. It was just me, an *avid Web user*, facing a problem, and doing everything in my power to help my own cause, never whining “woe is me” but just getting it in gear.
But when you flip that around, yeah that *is* an e-patient. That’s what people have been doing for years, long before it got well known.
An essential e-patient skill is filtering what we read, on the web or in print. Nobody teaches that anywhere near as well as you do. Thanks.

Steven Shie

October 4, 2010 at 8:51 am

I’m constantly inspired by Dave’s story. It’s not just a story about someone who tries his best to survive, but how an ordinary human being challenges an outdated system and makes a huge difference for his fellow patients. Haven’t read his book yet, but will get one soon.