Everyone’s cancer experience is unique, but Memorial Sloan Kettering medical oncologist Diane Reidy-Lagunes noticed her patients asking the same questions: “Should I keep exercising?” “How can I manage the side effects of chemotherapy?” “Am I eligible for a clinical trial?” Equipped with her expertise and a microphone, she became the host of a new podcast series called Cancer Straight Talk from MSK. Each 20-minute episode features experts from across MSK who share the latest advancements and empower patients in their care.
Episodes present easy-to-understand explanations of a range of topics from immunotherapy to new surgical advances to the connection between sugar and cancer. Listeners hear from doctors as well as patients. The result is comprehensive and intimate.
“Every story starts with a patient,” says Dr. Reidy-Lagunes. “I always want to teach listeners something about oncology, but I also want to show how it translates to saving lives.”
Patients come from across the cancer spectrum, from the newly diagnosed to those at the end of life. One especially poignant episode featured Christine Cohen, a patient of Dr. Reidy-Lagunes who was facing terminal disease. The two spoke about the difficult decision to end treatment.
“The last few years have been defined by cancer, but I am not defined by cancer,” Ms. Cohen told Dr. Reidy-Lagunes. “That’s what I’d like the world to know.”
Ms. Cohen died eight days after their conversation. Their honest discussion sowed a seed for others.
“Some of my patients who weren’t ready to open the door to difficult conversations listened to the episode and said, ‘Tell me when we need to have the conversations you had with Christine,’” Dr. Reidy-Lagunes says.
More episodes of Cancer Straight Talk from MSK are in the works. Dr. Reidy-Lagunes says, “There are so many more important conversations to be had.” •