Lymphoma expert Dr. Matthew Matasar explains why it is important for patients with follicular lymphoma to feel empowered in their care and shares how he empowers his own patients.
Dr. Matthew Matasar is a lymphoma expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Chief of Medical Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Bergen. To learn more about Dr. Matasar, visit here.
How do you empower patients?
For me, empowering patients isn’t something that you do. It’s just inherent to the practice of medicine and taking care of people with lymphoma. There’s lots of ways that you can think about this, but one of my standard lines when I’m talking with patients is that I’ll say that this is their climb.
They’re the mountain climber, and I’m just the sherpa. I’m the one lugging the bags and trying to help point out the paths. But this is their climb, and it’s about them, and it’s never about me.
Why is it important to empower patients?
It’s inherent. It’s obvious at some level that you have to empower patients because the care of patients, the care of people, is about people. It’s not about the doctor, or the nurse, or the clinical trial, or the drug, or pharma, or the hospital. It’s about you. I can only be as good a doctor as I am at listening to you or to my patient. And this is extremely clear with diseases like follicular lymphoma, which have such tremendous variety in terms of how it affects people, variety in terms of the options that I have to offer as treatments. It’s an extremely individualized and personalized situation.
So, if it’s not about you, and your goals, and your preferences, and your priorities, then I can’t do my job right.
Right. You need as much information as possible from the patient.
It’s all about the patient. And the clearer that I understand my patient’s personality, priorities, preferences, family situation, all of that stuff, the better job I’ll be able to do at helping them pick the right path forward.